Prints of most of these images are available for purchase. Please inquire.All photographs are the copyright of the individual artists and may not be reproduced without their permission.
With a record number of images submitted for "The Traces Left Behind", narrowing the selection to 75 was tremendously difficult. It was a pleasure to see how different artists chose to approach the subject and responses ranged from literal to abstract and spanned a broad range of aesthetic approaches. I found influences of some of my favorite artists: Eugene Atget, Clarence John Laughlin, Edouard Baldus, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Troy Paiva, and Bernd and Hilla Becher, to name a few. Some entrants chose to approach the subject via landscape or architectural photography, others through triptych, scanning of old photographs and objects, constructed images, and collage.
The photograph is itself a trace. In Camera Lucida Barthes observes the photograph as a portal to a moment which has already collapsed in on itself: "From a real body, which was there, proceed radiations which ultimately touch me, who am here; the duration of the transmission is insignificant; the photograph of the missing being, as Sontag says, will touch me like the delayed rays of a star." Each of these images tells its own story, about the subjects and those that shaped them, but also about the artist's reaction to and perception of the individual moment they captured. While there were many other images from the entrants that I would have liked to include also, in my selection I tried to capture a cross section of different approaches and styles, from the intimacy of a lost balloon trapped beneath a skylight and its implications about one child's story, to a sweeping view of a valley filled with rusting barrels and its ominous portent about the echoes of our civilization itself.
I felt each of them had something important to say and were worthy of reflection.
- Matthew Christopher
Over the last decade Matthew Christopher has photographed the decay of American infrastructure, the aftermath of economic dysfunction, and the dimming of the American dream. He has exhibited widely in the United States in solo shows entitled The Age of Consequences, The Things We Left Behind, and Dismantling the Dream.
Matthew lectures and conducts frequent workshops. A monograph, Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences, was published in 2014.
Whether abandoned or discarded, lost, preserved, or memorialized, the objects and places that are evidence of our histories inspire photographs. From an abandoned crumbling factory to a greasy pizza box left curbside, from an Incan ruin to a matted soft toy washed up at water's edge, initials carved in a tree, a soiled pile of personal effects waiting beneath an overpass… These are the clues to the treasure map of humanity. The humans who left them are palpable.
We are drawn to capture these things photographically before they rot or crumble or disappear entirely. They are evidence of the passage of time and, ultimately, of our mortality.