In this his latest body of work, the American artist Roe Ethridge conflates an array of photographic tropes, combining personal documentary images made in western Palm Beach County, Florida (his mother’s childhood home), with surreal collage works, images from a discarded Chanel magazine story, various cross connected still-life images of a Bonne Maman jam jar, a Nike football, a phone receiver from the 80’s and a diptych of a very dead flounder. These are interwoven with what appears to be a carefully directed scene depicting a teeth-white Durango SUV sinking into and then being retrieved from a canal. The clash of visual styles, histories and meaning establish a flat line of dissonance underscored by the touchline admonition of the neon title - SACRIFICE YOUR BODY.
Ethridge's storytelling invokes a sense of discomfit akin to David Lynch’s filmmaking and Carl Hiassen’s style of noir fiction, a lucid undermining of veracity and morality and the ingrained materiality that underpins American life.
In Roe’s own words: “For the last ten years or so I have been interested in how images could function as fugue. I was initially drawn to the idea as it referred to the medical condition of the 'fugue state'. A person in a 'fugue state' is prone to long term amnesia usually combined with a far-flung travel. In Walker Percy's book The Last Gentleman the protagonist is constantly going into a 'fugue state' and awaking from his amnesia to find he's no longer in New York City but on a historic Civil War battlefield in Virginia, hundreds of miles away. I related to this in my work as a way to discover new images without an over wrought thesis or a predetermined subject matter. I also love the idea of the fugue as a musical composition and how it can be (mis)appropriated for the sequencing of images. Of course color, composition, style and subject matter are not as defined as a musical note but they do have tones and voices and ultimately what I'd like my books and exhibitions to do is sing. Harmonies, disharmonies, noise and silence are all things I'm thinking about.”
Roe Ethridge’s visual sensibility has spawned a myriad of copyists in what has become known as ‘the new school of synthetic photography’.
Born in 1969 in Miami, Florida, Roe Ethridge lives and works in New York.
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