Paul Graham’s photographs touch upon the social fracture of America–the great divide between the included and excluded, blacks and whites, haves and have-nots. Taking on a simple topic, of late dealt with only through cliché photojournalism, American Night embraces neglected territory in a series of shocking images that sit on the fence between art and document. Graham’s images blind and overwhelm the viewer with a feeling akin to stepping out of a sheltered place and into the sunlight. Drained of color, shadow and form, they resonate with the lives of those they portray…and then the sequence snaps, either to a vibrant full-color image of a freshly minted dream house, complete with a blue sky and green grass of unattainable perfection, or to an intensely dark street portrait…before returning to the endless blinding whiteness of everyday life. Beyond their paucity or wealth of color these images contrast one another in their content: These perfect homes are unobtainable to those walking in the burnt landscape; they are a mirage, a dream or promise that can almost never be reached. Here is the chasm between promise and actuality, hope and reality, dream and truth. Shot between 1998 and 2002 in locations across America, including Los Angeles, Memphis, Detroit, New York City and Atlanta.
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