Press release | 7 May 2015
Foam proudly presents The Nine and The Ninety Nine, an exhibition of the American photographer Katy Grannan (1969, USA), comprising her two newest series which are shown here for the first time outside the United States. Grannan is renowned for her remarkable and intimate portraits of strangers, most of whom are somehow living on the fringes of society. The titles of the series refer to (former) highways in the U.S. state California, U.S. route 9 and U.S. route 99, along which she met the individuals. The exhibition includes the exclusive sneak preview of Grannan’s first feature film The Nine, to be released in 2016.
The Nine and The Ninety Nine feature work made as Grannan looked closely at this region and its inhabitants, both of which remain overlooked and undervalued. Yet the photographs insist upon their undeniable presence, a distinctive beauty and a unique landscape. Shown here for the first time outside the United States, Grannan’s newest work is set in the parched landscape of California’s Central Valley, where, for most, the 'American Dream' exists as pure myth.
A series of striking colour portraits of passing strangers, The Ninety Nine, was named for the barren highway that runs down the spine of the Central Valley—once described by American novelist Joan Didion as ‘the trail of an intention gone haywire.’ The Nine features black-and-white photographs made primarily along the banks of the Tuolumne River and in Modesto, a town unlike the sunny California any tourist would come to see.
The Ninety Nine continues from Grannan’s earlier series Boulevard, which began as a particular and personal search for a missing friend. Through this search, Grannan found community after community of disenfranchised individuals, rendered invisible by their circumstance. Photographing in the unforgiving light of the Central Valley sun, the resulting large-scale colour portraits demand attention—the subjects’ anonymity emphatically overturned.
Wandering the Central Valley, Grannan found herself drawn to the small, troubled community of Modesto’s South Ninth Street—locally referred to as ‘the Nine.’ The eponymous series features large-scale black and white work primarily made in this self-governing neighborhood, a kind of purgatory where nothing seems to move but the sun. Returning there time and again, for years, the enduring relationships that Grannan built allow the series an intimacy, a privileged look into a marginalized community otherwise ignored. This world is seen with a sensitivity toward the quiet elegance of the everyday ritual, the seemingly mundane gestures that bind us all together.
Grannan’s first feature film, also titled The Nine, is currently in post-production. Set on Modesto’s South Ninth Street too, the film is an intimate, at times disturbing view into an America most would rather ignore. Each character is unique yet all are collectively trapped in a place ruled by an endless cycle of desire and desperation. ‘The Nine’ is where chaos becomes normal and freedom is an illusion. Raw, poetic, direct and unnerving, the film is as much a window into a forgotten world as it is a distorted mirror, reflecting a shared human experience. Foam is proud to premiere in the exhibition this exclusive sneak preview of the upcoming film, set to be released in 2016.
Katy Grannan lives and works in Berkeley, US. She got her humanities BA from The University of Pennsylvania and her MFA in Photography from the Yale University School of Art. Her work is in the collections of the Guggenheim Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others.
The Nine and The Ninety Nine, by Katy Grannan can be seen from 26 June – 23 August 2015 at Foam. Open daily 10 am - 6 pm, Thurs/Fri 10 am – 9 pm. Tickets: €10,00
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