Somewhere in America, a classic Ford Mustang sits in a driveway. Everything about the home’s occupant is hidden in shadow, beyond that most banal of patriotic gestures – a flag dangling from the porch. I looked at this ghostly image of suburbia and saw staring back at me a postcard mirroring America’s great yawning divides.
How does a manufacturing giant ditch the raw power of the muscle car in favour of the credit default swap? How does a flag’s ubiquity grow in inverse proportion to the stridency with which one adheres to the values it embodies? Has a curtain of ignorance and vitriol darkened our public domain?
As an American who has spent much of the last decade overseas, I have conflicting emotions towards my homeland and am truly uncertain of how to answer those questions. I have, in many ways, stopped trying. Thankfully, Andrew Quilty has not.
Whether it’s the quiet grandeur of a foggy San Francisco morning or the human detritus of New York’s urban jungle, Andrew eyes his subjects with a tenderness that reveals something beyond our bland and, ultimately false, dichotomies. In Blue Highways, a pair of girls drinking bourbon on the roof of a rural shack is treated with the same affection and exasperation reserved for troubled ex-lovers and lost friends.
Some people will look at these photographs and conclude that Andrew dislikes America, but I know better. I see someone in search of goodness, willing to log a lot of lonely miles to prove it.
Matt Siegel is a Sydney-based freelance journalist. He covers Australia for The New York Times and is a contributing writer for The Atlantic Monthly, Bloomberg BusinessWeek and Monocle.
Andrew Quilty's works are showing at Maunsell Wickes at Barry Stern Galleries
Opening Tuesday 1 May from 6-8PM
Exhibition dates: 2-14 May 2012