Greta Pratt at Mass MoCA and Atlanta Contemporary

Greta Pratt may not be a street photographer per se but the portraits and moments in her 2005 Steidl book “Using History” are documentary in both slant and practice, and quite a few contain quick insights that remind me of good street photography. Like the cover!

What impresses is her ability to take photographs like these in addition to more traditional, staged portraits. And all fall neatly into her project’s conceit, which looks at the relationship between Americans and their country’s history, or lack thereof. Her wall of 19 Lincolns currently up at Mass MoCA is a highlight of a well-organized, cohesive show called “Ahistoric Occasion: Artists Making History” (through April 27, 07) that looks at how artists (in all genres) address, synthesize, and remake history.


Atlanta Contemporary Art Center opens a new show this Friday featuring Pratt’s work. I’m hoping to see more than just the Lincoln prints. They make for a great conceptual piece, but her talent as a photographer is best illustrated in a wider selection, as in her book(s). There’s a clear Parr connection with Pratt; each photographs in hyper-saturated color, and many of the images are sly in how they show people representing themselves. Like Parr’s desolate depictions of holiday’ers at New Brighton (thanks for geo-spellcheck, Paul Russell!), Pratt exposes Americans and their rootless affection for anything that joins them to the past, even when that past is fictional, racist, or frayed. (Strange to see that Amazon’s recommendation engine agrees with this connection, too.)

(Another highlight from the Mass MoCA show is Dario Robleto’s sculpture “Our Sin Was In Our Hips”. It’s a sculpture of two hips resting on top of each other, each constructed out of Robleto’s mother’s and father’s rock and roll record collections, respectively.)

Interview (pdf)
Boston Herald article

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