Postcards from the Edge

We Americans like our history writ large. Whether it’s Mount Rushmore ― giant presidents carved into a mountain ― or the Vietnam Veterans Memorial ― black walls speaking the names of our collective shame ― we want it out there. We also dress up our personal spaces: the carefully trimmed lawn, the shiny car, the white picket fence. Photographer Oscar Palacio doesn’t so much embrace these subjects as he walks quietly around them and catches them off-guard in “American Places.” His shots elicit solitary and contemplative feelings rather than a sense of unity or connection, regardless of whether he's capturing the grandiose or the intimate. Plymouth Rock, for example, shot from inside the elevated structure that surrounds it, appears to be incarcerated and really, really sleepy. A boulder near the entrance of the Japanese internment camp at Manzanar holds an assortment of coins left by visitors. At Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, we don't observe a cannon in its battlefield setting, but rather look directly into its threatening barrel. In a shot that captures a more personal setting, a fresh stump reveals the source of a backyard stack of firewood. A sprinkler promises to water squares of sod placed on pavement. The exhibit combines two of Palacio’s previous collections, “History Re-visited” and “Unfamiliar Territory.”
Oct. 8-Dec. 3, 2010

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