Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Spiritual America

State Fair #2

Untitled (girlfriend)
copyright Richard Prince

The fact that I couldn't drag myself away from the Guggenheim without guiltily purchasing the catalogue from the Richard Prince retrospective was a testament to the affinity I feel towards Prince's compulsion to collect cool stuff. While my collections are far more humble and fit into one small railroad apartment and a pile of suitcases in the corner of my parents' basement, I certainly relate to the desire to collect America: photos, books, magazines, cars, cowboys, bodies and faces.

The predominant impression that Prince's exhibition left me with was that of his preoccupation with seductiveness. American is cool and beautiful and sexy, in high gloss ads and celebrity photos, but especially at its trashiest and most overlooked. My favorite images in the show were photographs Prince shot himself upstate after leaving New York City - pictures of things he found on back roads, such as an above ground swimming pool, a green muscle car, a forgotten white basketball hoop standing amidst tall golden weeds.

After I made the photograph above at the Minnesota State Fair in 2001, I thought about the series of photos Prince appropriated from the back pages of biker magazines of bikers' girlfriends. I was seduced by the same kind of fierce and explicit rebellion emanating from this cluster of friends at the fair.

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