press release

Sikkema Jenkins & Co. is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by Mitch Epstein, American Power, on view from March 10 - April 7.

Epstein is a pioneer of color photography, who began to redefine it as an art form nearly thirty years ago. Since then, he has developed a signature approach to his subjects. His images appear staged and spontaneous at the same time; they display, as critic Joanna Lehan put it, "a jaw-dropping talent for color composition"; and they sabotage their own formal perfection with troubling or provocative content. This content is layered and detailed, and offers multiple readings with repeated viewings.

With American Power, Epstein fully exploits his interest in American culture. This ongoing series examines energy usage and excess in the United States. He made these pictures on one to two-week forays near or at an energy source—what he calls "energy tourism." The images implicate, but do not always directly reference fossil fuel, hydro-power, nuclear and wind power as they are used across the United States. Epstein has been stopped several times by the police and F.B.I. while photographing energy plants from a distance on a public sidewalk, and ordered to leave, although he was not trespassing. His unease with law enforcement agencies that appear, he says, "to be following corporate, not constitutional law," per the Patriot Act, informs these photographs.

Epstein plays with the definition of American power, probing not just corporate power but the powers of sexuality and consumption. This new work embodies a complex amalgam of economic, social, environmental, and aesthetic politics. It has no didactic message, but poses various inquiries.

These pictures investigate, for instance, the politics of Big Brother, the politics of human intimacy, and the value of making very large photographs. With American Power, the artist has ratcheted up his fascination with what America looks and feels like, and what it currently means as both a trope and a culture.

Mitch Epstein's photographs are collected by major institutions throughout the United States, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art. Among numerous books by the artist is his most recent retrospective monograph, Mitch Epstein WORK (Steidl 2006).

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Mitch Epstein