Mitch Epstein - Recreation

These pictures, made in the seventies and eighties, offer a window onto the beginning and breadth of Mitch Epstein’s career. Most of these photographs are previously unpublished — culled from a body of work that goes back thirty years. Ordinary things here startle, while the extraordinary appears at perfect ease in the world. Teenage girls abandon a baby to fondle a snake; children sleep ass to the wind on a car in an open campground. People stake their private ground in public, if only for a moment — during which Epstein’s camera finds them. Gesture gives many of these pictures their pulse. Tender hand, strained shoulder, swiveled hip. It isn’t the fact of thirteen year olds smoking that shocks, but the grace and knowledge in the young fingers that hold the cigarettes. Epstein’s sharp wit is laced with compassion. He has turned these rituals of boredom and beauty, excess and denial, alienation and possibility, into no less than a distillation of modern America.
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