The New Antiquity.
Photographs by Tim Davis. Text by Francine Prose.
Damiani, 2010. 116 pp., 100 color illustrations, 12x9¾".
During a recent stint in Rome (on a Rome Prize
Fellowship), photographer Tim Davis became
drawn to the peculiar status of ancient ruins.
“You are standing in a field in Italy, looking at a
pile of rocks. You’ve seen rocks and these are
rocks. But someone else—a friend, a guidebook,
a scholar—sees a temple . . .” Fascinated with
the degree of meaning making that we bring to
bear upon such minimal visual cues, Davis tested
this perceptual shift on suburban ruins—
what he calls “a soon-to-be ancient past”—and
found that it was possible to make pictures that
“look like archaeology, but might just be the
side of the road.”The photographs in The New
Antiquity trigger in the viewer that wonderful
cognitive bafflement of which Davis is a virtuoso:
a kind of “seeing as” that allows us to completely
reconceive what is actually quite ordinary
(albeit beautifully photographed) everyday
imagery. The New Antiquity proves that the suburban
landscape is uniform and global not only
in its pristine props, but also in its decay. And as
Davis notes,“The Imperial Romans did the same,
shipping marble fromTunis to Turkey. This New
Antiquity doesn’t come from a centralized
authority, but spreads virulently through all fertile
capital markets. And its rise and ruin occur
quickly . . .”
Read George Slade's review of The New Antiquity in photo-eye Magazine.