“Rodeo Drive has been published in a moment that continues to bear witness to the resurgence of much photographic work from the eighties and before, amongst which Joel Sternfeld’s re-issued American Prospects and newly published First Pictures take their place alongside Michael Galinsky’s Malls Across America and Philip Lorca diCorcia’s Hustlers as evidence of a renewed investment in art made in America in this pivotal period. It is difficult to discern whether this work is now finding a place in public because of a deep appetite in our culture for the styles of long past decades, or because of a conviction that this historical period is of acute and continuing relevance. The quality of the work would suggest the latter, and it is that quality that offers us an enduring invitation to reassess our own sophistication all these long decades since.
These photographs reflect the problematic contradictions of free individual agency in a society governed by consumption, and in their contemporary publication they invite those who examine them to ponder the extent of the ‘distance’ that separates our culture from that in which these images were made. If it is true, as Max Kozloff writes, that “[w]e spectators see what those in the picture do not wish to see, and their reluctance becomes the subject of our look”, then it is equally true that these photographs mirror that ironic convention in an inverse form, looking out on our blindness as we look in on the blindness of their subjects.”
- from an essay on Rodeo Drive due this Friday at thegreatleapsideways.com
Photographs by Joel Sternfeld, Michael Galinsky, Philip-Lorca diCorcia and Anthony Hernandez respectively, from the series Stranger Passing (#s 1 & 3), First Pictures (#2), Malls Across America (4 & 5), Hustlers (6 & 7) and Rodeo Drive (8 & 9).