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Indepth Arts News:

"Joe Deal: The Fault Zone and Other Work 1976-1986"
2003-12-11 until 2003-01-31
Robert Mann Gallery
New York, NY, USA United States of America

Joe Deal's photographs are receiving renewed critical attention along with the work of his colleagues from the influential 1975 exhibition New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape at the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House in Rochester, New York: Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Nicholas Nixon and Stephen Shore.

They created a map of American culture by making documentary photographs that were, as curator William Jenkins explains, "anthropological rather than critical, scientific rather than artistic." The relevance of the New Topographics artists has only increased as the social, political, and environmental topographies of our society grow increasingly complex.

Following the success of the New Topographics exhibition, Joe Deal completed The Fault Zone, a portfolio documenting suburban life along the San Andreas Fault Line in Southern California. These austere and often abstract images convey the precarious balance between the natural and the man-made world. Deal's work is dense with contextual information that communicates this uneasy balance: the stark geometry of housing developments under construction; the tangled undergrowth of desert vegetation; intersecting lines of dirt roads and power cords; subdivided backyards; and people occupying themselves with the mundane chores of daily life. Through his camera, these simple things become more complicated; underlying the immediate subject matter is the irony of the population and construction boom in a fragile desert ecosystem with an active fault line. In keeping with the New Topographics, Deal reserves judgment, allowing the viewer to reach their own answers to the questions his images raise. Curator Anita V. Mozley concludes that Deal's "nominal subject is the landscape of earthquake country, but his essential subject is time - man's time and the earth's time." (Contemporary Photographers, Saint Martin's Press, 1982) The Fault Zone portfolio will be the focal point of the exhibition; also on display will be additional works from Southern California and works from the New Topographics exhibition.

Joe Deal was born in 1947 in Topeka, Kansas. He continues to work as a photographer and has served as Provost at the Rhode Island School of Design since 1999. He has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (1983) and two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1977, 1980). Deal's work is included in numerous museums and collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles; and in the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, New York.

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