Thursday, April 7, 2011

Amy Stein's Domesticated Spaces

Fast Food; Amy Stein. All images reproduced here with the artist's consent.

Last fall we wrote about the work of a group of artists involved in a "rural avant-garde," as described by Chris Sauter in his excellent feature in Art Lies.  Within that portfolio, Amy Stein's work caught our eye. Her photographs offered an unflinching take on the interactions between rural domestic space and the surrounding wilds--and while there was a method behind her images, they found a way to be both poignant and defamiliarizing. 

We'd like to feature more of her work from the Domesticated series today; one can follow the link to a generous selection from her site, or trace back this link to place an order for the full book-length collection of photographs. Unlike some of the other artists of Mr. Sauter's "rural avant-garde," Ms. Stein is not a product of rural America; instead, she was raised in Washington, DC, and Karachi, Pakistan, and she currently lives and teaches in New York City. Much like the artist's well-traveled life, these photographs have been exhibited widely across the U.S. and Europe.  Ms. Stein was named one of the top fifteen emerging photographers by American Photo, and her photographs can be found in the permanent holdings of many of the finest private and public collections. 

Like Brian Rosa and Adam Ryder's Edge of Light series we discussed last month, Ms. Stein's urban perspective is far from romantic or pastoral. Instead, she is also concerned with the space between rural communities and the natural world outside its door. As the cities and suburbs spread outward, toward traditionally "rural" towns and landscapes, this space that Ms. Stein is documenting will become increasingly present, and increasingly complicated. 

Amy Stein also maintains a blog that features in-depth interviews with other artists, many of whom are working to investigate their native rural spaces--this material deserves a separate post, so please stay tuned.

Here is an excerpt from Ms. Stein's statement on the Domesticated project, followed by a brief selection from the series. Much more remains to be discovered on Amy Stein's site
My photographs serve as modern dioramas of our new natural history. Within these scenes I explore our paradoxical relationship with the "wild" and how our conflicting impulses continue to evolve and alter the behavior of both humans and animals. We at once seek connection with the mystery and freedom of the natural world, yet we continually strive to tame the wild around us and compulsively control the wild within our own nature. 

The photographs in this series are constructed based on real stories from local newspapers and oral histories of intentional and random interactions between humans and animals. The narratives are set in and around Matamoras, a small town in Northeast Pennsylvania that borders a state forest. 
 Watering Hole


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