Over six years, 100,000 miles and 46 states, photographer Matt Black crossed his native U.S. without once setting foot in a community that existed above the poverty line.
Black’s work American Geography plots this journey, presenting an alternative map of the U.S. That Black undertook his trip 2014–2020, a time of rising discord and inequality in the U.S., is scored starkly into every one of American Geography’s black-and-white images.
“Hierarchies of power are what the work is exploring,” he says. “Who gets what and when and where, and who gets to say what America is. That’s what I’m talking about.”
Black’s American Geography features Southern farm towns, Texas’ borders with Mexico and the post-industrial towns of the Midwest. “These places feed the raw materials for that American story to unfold elsewhere. There’s a built-in sense of disempowerment that goes with that. Anyone who’s from a place like this knows the feeling very well. I tried to harness and internalize that feeling as much as possible; the tragedy and disillusionment that goes along with that.”
From 23 September to 17 December 2021 (Tues–Fri 10am–5pm), a selection of images from American Geography is on display at the Magnum gallery in London. The exhibition includes haunting streetscape Columbus, North Dakota (2017); Alturas, California (2016), depicting a cowboy in discordant silhouette; and Burning tires, Corcoran, California (2014), with its plumes of acrid smoke billowing into the desert atmosphere. Book your viewing slot through our Eventbrite page or by emailing email@example.com.
The exhibition coincides with the launch of Black’s book by Thames & Hudson this autumn. Black’s work will also be included on Magnum Photos’ booth at Paris Photo (11–14 November 2021), while the photographer offers guidance in making meaningful documentary work in a series of 21 lessons entitled Matt Black: The Documentary Commitment, available here.