Parsons School of Design. Photography Department.
(sponsoring body)Patti Hallock
I had the opposite experience of that described by Tocqueville when I visited Europe for the first time in 2001. While in Italy, I discovered that family and community are higher priorities than the individual. This emphasis on the collective is evident in the Italians’ daily shopping and strolling habits as well as in their neighborhood designs, which are centered on such gathering places as piazzas and the town Duomo (cathedral). Back in America, I realized that even the places we go outside the home for socialization could foster feelings of alienation. School and church are iconic places that function to support and nurture identity. The paradox of feeling alone in these places designed for togetherness is a hallmark of American individualism as described by Tocqueville. I was drawn to photograph the architecture, public and private spaces and personal possessions of others in my efforts to describe the isolation and alienation that pervades American society. Where the New Topographics artists strove to eliminate emotion and judgment from their photographs, I build my photographs around these very elements.
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