Andrea Robbins & Max Becher: The Transportation of Place
Essays by Maurice Berger and Lucy Lippard.
Andrea Robbins and Max Becher draw on a rich visual vocabulary gleaned as much from travel brochures, postcards and National Geographic as from the photography of Walker Evans, Edward Curtis and Stephen Shore. Their work, a somewhat surreal nonfiction, uses documentary images to examine contradictions of place and cultural identity: that is, when Germans tie on Native American headdresses and Midwesterners parade in Bavarian costumes, Robbins and Becher are there. In their own words, "The primary focus of our work is what we call the transportation of place--situations in which one limited or isolated place strongly resembles another distant one. Everywhere, not only in the new world, such situations are accumulating and accepted as genuine locales. Traditional notions of place, in which culture and geographic location neatly coincide, are being challenged by legacies of slavery, colonialism, holocaust, immigration, tourism and mass-communication. Whether the subject is Germany in Africa, Germans dressing as Native Americans, American towns dressed as Germany, New York in Las Vegas, New York in Cuba or Cuba in exile, our interest tends to be a place out of place with its various causes and consequences." Their work posits vital questions for a globalized world and for photography.