The first thing i noticed about Susan Lipper’s Trip was the binding, or the sound of the binding. It reminds me of story books, children’s story books. The crisp boards. Perhaps the size and shape as well. Picture books for adults. Is this what photo books are? We learn to read the landscape, the images around us. Giving us new words. Expanding a kind of vocabulary. In the Trip this is part of the point. Her photographs are tied to a text. Or is it the other way round. The story book. A trip across the USA. Almost a cliché now? Is this a real trip. Or manufactured. It does not feel real (it’s not). Knowing? Postmodern? I was thinking of writing about this and the Americans, they fit together. Compare and contrast. The Americans have a rectangular form. The images. They are full of 35 mm energy. The trip is made of squares. A different energy. The squares seem more considered. They have a slower speed. Is it about tripod and view camera? It hints toward it. This is something of a difference. Time has moved on. The Americans happened. We look at photographs and we know of Frank. Things are different. The Trip is a story. Not an exploration but following. Outside in another way. The narrator of the written story talks of a she. The constant. The female instead of the male. Little clues. An image of a wall of homecoming queens. “she found herself on the wall of fame and switched the numbers and let the other girl be 38” is the image before or after? We can almost see her. There is only one person in this book. There are photos of people but only one picture of a person (vs a picture of a picture of a person (as far as we can tell)) this person is nailed to a cross in a pretence of Christ. Fake blood. A bored look. The rest are empty of people. Alone. Frank is full of people and now they are extracted. Humanity replaced with a fake vision of Christ? Tiny details that make up lives. The swish of curtain. Arrows on a road. The tiny details unsettle. Things are wrong. Tilted. Things look like they may hurt you. Cables. Broken glass. Race relations. Fearful undertones. Were these things found or made? Does it matter?
“The commonplace is sometimes the most out of place”
How does this fit with Grapevine? Her look at a community in West Virginia? Grapevine is based on human interaction. More of a document. She is already aware and applies certain tropes that are beyond the document. The black frame referring to Arbus? The images that are picked. The fact that in an interview she mentions that she could have taken images of the area from a Norman Rockwell perspective. She has chosen this angle, her document is not about the community, but about something else. Our expectations? Subjective. Her journal. Things to remember.
Against fashion. B&W.