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"Suburbia: Photographs by Bill Owens"
2000-09-16 until 2000-11-05
California Museum of Photography
The American dream is inextricably intertwined with the American identity and may be both our strongest
claim to a cultural heritage and the best way to measure cultural shifts. Bill Owens series of photographs
Suburbia presents an ironic tension between the idealism of his subjects who view their suburban homes
as a package deal that includes all the elements of a traditionally successful American life at an affordable
price and the detached superficiality of this lifestyle.
Both an exhibition and a photographic book, Suburbia is one of the landmarks of New Topographic
photography. The 1972 volume was reissued in 1999 with additional captions by editor Robert Harshorn
Shimshak and an introduction by journalist David Halberstam. Regarded by many as a cult classic,
Owens study of American suburbs and their inhabitants puts under examination Tupperware parties,
backyard barbecues, television watching and traffic. His careful documentation of the quotidian and the
absurd offers a rich account of life of life between the urban city center and the rural expanse.
UCR/CMP is presenting Suburbia during a time when suburban life is being reexamined by artists,
historians and cultural critics. Recently, the suburbs have been the subject of films including American
Beauty and The Ice Storm, a ie account of how the Suburbs Rule, and two new books, Suburban
Nation and Picture Windows. In view of these more recent explorations, Owens prescient work offers
interesting and important perspective on middle class American life.
Were really happy,
Copyright Bill Owens;
Courtesy of UCR/CMP.