Justine Kurland >< There’s a Hungry Mouth for Every Peach >< October – November 2011

Justine Kurland

There’s a Hungry Mouth for Every Peach

Opening preview Tuesday 4 October 19h – 21h

5 October – 12 November

 If I had explained myself clearly you would realize by now that through this non-“artistic” view, this effort to suspend or destroy imagination, there opens before consciousness, and within it, a universe luminous, spacious, incalculably rich and wonderful in each detail, as relaxed and natural to the human swimmer, and as full of glory, as his breathing: and that it is possible to capture and communicate this universe not so well by any means of art as through such open terms as I am trying it under.

In a novel, a house or person has his meaning, his existence, entirely through the writer. Here, a house or a person has only the most limited of his meaning through me: his true meaning is much huger. It is that he exists, in actual being, as you do and as I do, and as no character of the imagination can possibly exist. His great weight, mystery, and dignity are in this fact. As for me, I can tell you of him only what I saw, only so accurately as in my terms I know how: and this in turn has its chief stature not in any ability of mine but in the fact that I too exist, not as a work of fiction, but as a human being. …

-James Agee: from the introduction of “Let us now praise famous men”

‘There’s a Hungry Mouth for Every Peach” is Justine Kurland’s second solo exhibition of photographs in Vienna, and reflects significant artistic exploration since her 2003 exhibition ‘Welcome Home’ at Galerie Lisa Ruyter. On the road with her son, Casper, Justine Kurland has turned her attention from mothers and extended families to focus on nomadic life: train-hoppers, hitchhikers, wilderness squatters, wayfarers, and drifters, mostly men.

The ghosts that are behind an American identity are very present in this work. Justine Kurland evokes the distinctly American experience of creating small utopias in an expansive rural setting with simply the material at hand. These are similar spirits to those conjured by Walker Evans and James Agee as they documented the life and experience of poverty stricken sharecroppers during the great depression and the dust bowl era.

The photographs are narratives gleaned from America’s dream of itself: a collective identity based on firm faith in the inalienable right to freedom. The pastoral and utopian themes explored in her earlier work are here cut with a new sense of urgency, borne straight out of the struggle to leave home because it did not feel like home, to go it alone, to give up what society has to offer, to say “fuck you” to parents, God, and country, and to find redemption in the barest elements of everyday life.

Justine Kurland was born in 1969 in Warsaw, New York. She lives and works in New York, USA.

She received her B.F.A from School of Visual Arts, NY in 1996, and her M.F.A. from Yale University in 1998.

Her work has been exhibited extensively at museums and galleries in the U.S. and internationally. Recent museum exhibitions have included : 2009 : Into the Sunset: Photography’s Image of the American West, Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA ; CEPA GALLERY, Buffalo, New York, USA (solo) ; 2008 : Role Models: Feminine Identity in Contemporary American Photograph, National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., USA. Her work is in the public collections of institutions including the Whitney Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, and the ICP, all in New York; the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC; and the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal.

She is represented by Mitchell-Innes & Nash and Galerie Frank Elbaz in Paris.