New exhibit displays photographers’ vision of ‘paradise’
By Scott D. Elingburg, Special to The Post and Courier, January 26, 2017
“All politics is local,” the late Tip O’Neill, former Speaker of the House, used to say. I prefer to say that “all art is local.”
There’s not a grand explanation; I’ve always believed that the stronger the bond an artist has with his or her work, the more direct the connection to the viewer. I see this connection directly in well-known artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Georgia O’Keefe, but I’ve discovered that in mediums such as photography, the locality of the artist often takes center stage.
Photography is a delicate and tricky medium. As a former photographer, I feel the frustration and joy that comes with garnering a single usable photograph from a week’s worth of shooting. I also feel the connection and sense of place that photographer Eliot Dudik brings to the latest exhibit at The Southern, “Paradise Road/Paradise Out-Front.”
Dudik hit the road in search of paradise, just to see what it looked like. As it turns out, paradise runs the gamut from the serene to the banal.
The continental U.S. has almost 200 roads named “Paradise Road,” and Dudik has photographed about half of them. The results, the images of paradise, are on display in the exhibit.
“Paradise Road” shows off work that isn’t bound by terms such as “landscape photography” or “cultural exploration.” Though that is certainly what Dudik achieves through his photographs, his work isn’t constrained by an expected notion of what America is supposed to look like. Each photo isn’t a judgment on a place but rather a thoughtful presentation. And it turns out that what looks like paradise to some might be intolerable to others.VIEW THE FULL FEATURE