Monday, March 10, 2014

John Humble, Fire Hydrant, Pico Boulevard, 2013.  The best of his pictures at the Craig Krull Gallery.  This photograph puts photojournalism into play in a curious & understated way; it's kind of a thematic bookend to Joel Sternfeld's Exhausted Renegade Elephant.  The juxtaposition of the fountain with the working class or homeless pedestrian with the cart in the foreground is striking.  In this moment we glimpse the breakdown of one of the "seamless systems"  of the modern city, and the studied indifference of at least one citizen to that breakdown.  What might account for this indifference?  Living with breakdowns on a weekly, daily, or hourly basis.  So for some citizens the picture is photojournalism, a Richard Scarry-esque document of a momentary glitch in Busytown, and the hard-working citizens responsible for fixing it, while for others it's clear evidence of a system that doesn't work for everybody, an ongoing revelation of Busytown's precariousness, a place where everybody is, at least in theory, primed to spectacularly blow.  

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