We are excited to feature the work of Frank Hallam Day as the next Ctrl+P: Photography Taken Offline artist. Frank Hallam Day is a fine art photographer in Washington, D.C. He has taught photography at the Smithsonian Institution and in other local programs. His work is in numerous museum and private collections in the United States and abroad, including the State Museum of Berlin, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Portland Art Museum, the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. His artistic interests revolve around the themes of culture and history, and humanity’s footprint on the natural world. Recent projects include the erasure of personal and cultural memory in East Berlin, and on the impact of globalization on African identity. He was a winner of the prestigious Leica Oskar Barnack Prize in 2012 and the Bader Prize in 2006, among many other awards and he has received several grants from the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He also writes on photography for Photo Review.
Nocturnal / RV Night
These images of recreational vehicles lodged deeply in night jungles suggest a humanity isolated from a dark and ominous nature. They crouch like steel insects in the woods, shining, hard carapaces protecting a soft interior. They are Rousseau’s animals recast for a mechanical age, glowing windows and screens in place of the penetrating stare of watchful creatures. They brand themselves with labels asserting a desired yet ironically thwarted relationship with nature: Escaper, Conquest, Sunset Trail, Wilderness, Cougar, Falcon.
Together they reveal a sense of displacement and alienation from the natural world. The occupants of these pods are hermetically sealed from the natural world looming just beyond.
The overtly voyeuristic creepiness of these pictures also evokes other topics: withdrawal from public space and engagement in American life, the obsessions of survivalists and the dominance over nature. In this sense, these RV’s resemble the ultimate gated community…i.e., no community. Nothing is more American than an RV, but these pictures suggest other impulses underlying the sheen of the American dream: flight, concealment, isolation, bewilderment and withdrawal. The RV’s sing the night song of the American dream, all the while spilling a toxic light into the jungle.
These photographs are overtly theatrical; the foliage surrounding the vehicles resembles scenery props. The images are intended to look staged, almost dreamlike, half-way between fantasy and reality. While it may seem they share the current wave of interest in the theatrical and constructed, they are not staged. They are the product of months of travel in Florida using handheld lights and a tripod to capture the images. The occupants never know I’m there; their televisions are on and their blinds are drawn.
Ctrl+P: Photography taken offline is an exciting venture at Catherine Edelman Gallery inspired by the hundreds of photographs we see on blogs and online galleries. Started in January 2011, CEG introduces Chicagoans to new artists we find while searching the web, exhibiting a small selection of one person’s work every two months, taking the pictures offline and putting them on the wall. It is our goal that Ctrl+P will provide further exposure for these photographers away from the glow of a computer monitor and without the temptation to click to the next link. We hope you will join us by unplugging from the internet and visiting CEG to see these photographs the way they were intended — in print.