Theory & Practice

Matt Black: UnAmerican Dream

A new film follows Matt Black throughout the photographer's home in California's Central Valley. 

Matt Black

"Leaving home. I once told myself that all I needed to understand was my corner of the world, but I've been crisscrossing the country for a year now, and all I want to do is see more."

- Fresno, California. Tuesday, January 5, 2016

In his sensitive moving image survey, film director Joppe Jacob Rog follows Black throughout the photographer’s home in California’s Central Valley. 

Between 2014 and 2020, Matt Black traveled over 100,000 miles across 46 states. American Geography documents the experiences of those living in some of the poorest communities in the nation. Starting in his hometown in California’s Central Valley, where billions of dollars are generated every year in agricultural output but one-third of the population lives in poverty, he traveled to other areas of “concentrated poverty” – as the US census defines places with a poverty rate of 20 percent or more. What Black found is that rather than being distant anomalies, these communities were rarely more than a two-hour drive apart enabling him to cross the country without ever crossing above the poverty line.

Find out more about Matt Black’s project here, and find copies of the American Geography book on the Magnum Shop.

Black’s on-demand course, The Documentary Commitment, features a curriculum of 21 lessons spanning more than five hours, in which Black speaks on his pathway into photography, teaches some of his key guiding principles to making meaningful work, often on difficult subjects, and shares insights on how he has developed significant projects focused on themes of geography, inequality, and the environment in his native region of the Central Valley in California, as well as further afield. Find out more, here.

Stay in touch
Learn about online and offline exhibitions, photography fairs, gallery events, plus fine print news and activities, on a monthly basis.
Get fortnightly tips and advice articles, find out about the latest workshops, free online events and on-demand courses.
Stay up to date every Thursday with Magnum photographers’ activities, new work, stories published on the Magnum website, and the latest offerings from our shop.