American Photographs - California (2014)
This piece started out as a way of exploring differences in the visual appearances of various areas. I wanted to document the people of every state, make a typology of humans with the same effort as the Bechers‘, an image of a society with the same detail as August Sander‘s lifework. Traveling 50 states, meeting and understanding people in order to be able to photograph them in a way that represents them the most, however, would be the work of a lifetime and also - it has in a way been done before by photographers like Walker Evans and Robert Frank.
I believe that understanding the people is essential for developing an image of an area - like a whole US state. There is no way to portrait that area without knowing what moves the people, what makes them angry, what their goals in life are and what they believe in. In order to be able to portrait those states anyways I realized that I needed help. Help of the people in the states. But instead of asking them questions, I used an answer that was available already - their votes. Every couple of years the citizens of the 50 US states gather to elect the representatives for their state’s senates - the State Senators. Those senators, democratically elected by potentially every citizen of their state must therefore be a representation of this state.
There must be Black people as well as Hispanics, Native Americans and Caucasian people, women and men in those senates according to their populations.
Taking these images and superimposing them in a way that the outcome is an arithmetic average of the faces should result in a prototypical citizen since the images themselves should represent the people in this state.
But do they?
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