The exhibition leads the programming for the 2016 FotoFocus Biennial which explores the theme of the Undocument, or the blurry line between fact and fabrication in photography.
Nearest Neighbor is the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the U.S. and will present over 15 years of Ethridge’s photographs. This mid-career survey focuses on the artist’s shifts between the realms of commercial, fine art and personal photography. Ethridge’s work is neither just slickly commercial nor conceptually artistic. Rather, it blurs the line between these two seemingly polarized edges of photographic practice. His work will just as likely feature a plastic bag or a pumpkin sticker as a bottle of Chanel perfume or a supermodel. The show is titled after the photographic term “nearest neighbor”, which refers to the type of sampling used when resizing a digital image. The exhibition also alludes to the personal nature of Ethridge’s work, as he regularly includes his family and friends, as well as himself, as subjects in his photographs. While photographers have typically used their own lives as subject matter for their art, Ethridge flouts distinctions between sentimental and commercial spheres of meaning, suggesting that our lives are a mixture of individual and collective images and experiences.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether you go or not, Neighbors, presents more than 15 years of Ethridge's photographs, which typically and wryly collapse distinctions between commercial, conceptual and personal uses of photography. Divided into three 'chapters', the central section spans the American photographer's entire oeuvre, from his early self-published projects to his most recent work, bookended by two almost inscrutable series in his signature deadpan style: family snapshots of grey, rural beach scenes, and images of farm animals - turkey, pigs, goats - to conclude. Rendering the mundane peculiar, hilarious even, Neighbors haphazardly traces the evolution of Ethridge's attempt to bombard his viewers with a heady mixture of imagery, subverting the stylistic tropes of each genre as it relishes in the oddities of image-making and viewing.