Don Hudson – “From the Archives” (2012)

If you are the type of person that wants to look quickly for connections or a parallel in style or “feel”, Winogrand is right there, ready to be compared to, the weight of the photographs not at all far apart.

 

By Paul Loomis, January, 2013

This “America” that we know in our gut (those of us who live here) is a place at once filled with “the dream” and the hidden failure of it. Everything is at once charged and also slightly superficial, our icons fresh and new. The “cowboy”, the “carnival”, the “road trip”, the “Founding Fathers’. There’s nothing “ordinary” and yet everything is ordinary. I suppose that in a nation as new experiment, these dichotomies must be present. Everything must be loaded with contradiction in some sense.

Don Hudson’s book, “From the Archives”, is made from this American dichotomy. In a way, it is built out of charged material, made up of this “ordinary that is not really ordinary”, pieced together out of icons that exude from everything and everywhere, formed by the romantic that is embedded into the commonplace. The pictures are from Michigan during 1973-1987, a setting (and time period) that could be described as the epitome of that which is American and that which is “working class”.

If you are the type of person that wants to look quickly for connections or a parallel in style or “feel”, Winogrand is right there, ready to be compared to, the weight of the photographs not at all far apart.

From the Archives shows pictures of an American reality that has for the most part disappeared. These are days of the drive-in movie and non-chain fast food, small town football and very frequent parades. In these photographs, Don Hudson makes all of it fascinating with compositions that are effortless and consistent, maybe at times even “accidentally” phenomenal – no photographer denies the value of the “accident”.

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A runner breaks through a large sheet of paper held between two tight groups of uniformed women frozen in motion. A little boy holds an assault rifle and is photographed by an adult while the man beside him aims a bazooka. No one seems concerned.

 

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This all being said, finally, the book is in a way, a beautiful American time capsule, filled with working class folks living the un-ordinary ordinariness of the American Dream, or in some cases, the hidden failures and the “almost-American dream”.

 

Two men drink and one preaches while another listens. A person wearing a frog mask and a person not wearing a frog mask examine each other. There are many photographs of the second American religion, American football.

People watch a police officer who is riding a horse and carrying an American flag that has, for the instant in which the photograph was taken, fluttered around the officer’s head so that his face is not visible and is replaced by the flag.

In one of the more striking pictures, a basketball hangs in the air in the upper left hand corner of the frame, which is bisected by the steel supports of a basketball goal. To the left of the support three children sprint after the ball, and to the right four stand still and watch it. This photograph and a few others like it are crystalline scenes that stand out, and could earn their creator a reputation alone.

The contents of From the Archives were not shot as fine art but rather as casual street photography and as a result some would say “merely taken” – loading them with mistakenly casual connotations. They were discovered many years after being “taken” on the internet platform that is Flickr, the author having posted them to share. At that point, people had recognized them en masse because of their obvious magic. This volume collects the “strongest” of the photographs and does an excellent job of arranging them and turning them into a beautiful object.  This all being said, finally, the book is in a way, a beautiful American time capsule, filled with working class folks living the un-ordinary ordinariness of the American Dream, or in some cases, the hidden failures and the “almost-American dream”.

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From the Archives

Don Hudson

Posted in Highlights, Reviews, Street Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , .