MP3.
The Midwest Photographers Publication Project.

Individual titles by Kelli Connell, Justin Newhall, and Brian Ulrich. Essays by Rod Slemmons, Karen Irvine, and Natasha Egan.
Aperture, New York, 2006. 168 pp., 75 four-color illustrations total, 8x8¼".
One would think that we, as a collective culture, would be tired of photographers parsing the bleak landscape of American consumerism and revealing, again, our horrid excess, our big-box bravado, our credit card camaraderie and, by extension, the deficiency of our collective and individual spirit. But we're not. Especially when it’s captured as capably as does Brian Ulrich for his collection Copia, released alongside Kelli Connell's Double Life and Justin Newhall's Historical Marker as MP3, a three volume box set from the Museum of Contemporary Photography's Midwest Photographers Publication Project. Ulrich's unerring eye for the bleak power of multiples— whether pistols or Target check-out stands warps through this series against the weft of hard ironies posed by the ridiculous language generated from herding consumers and the actual people searching a netherworld of products and services for something that will fix, satiate or somehow solve. His view is the longest range of the three collections: We see ourselves through a distance almost unrecognizable. In Newhall's work, documenting visits to historic landmarks and the inevitable bronze obelisks and riders on horseback that signify importance, we glimpse something a little more personal—a search for universal meaning and a way, if a flawed way, in which to find connection to one another through a common past. Connell provides the even less comfortable search for personal identity and intimacy. She digitally duplicates her model to create twin images playing out different aspects of relationship in each frame—shooting pool together and wondering how the night will end up, or one cradling another's head over the toilet after a night of excess. The metaphors are obvious, but the work is not: each exposure is a surprise, an intimate moment, almost a nostalgia for moments of our own that we finally see from an outside perpective. The three photographers, and the three depths of insight, are as revealing and commanding a group of contemporary documentarians as one is likely to find in a single collection.-ZANE FISCHER Read Publisher's Description.

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