Portrait photography offers a look into two distinct American communities in a two person show, “Michael Joseph/Rachael Dunville,” on view at Daniel Cooney Fine Art in New York City until June 17. For his series “Lost and Found,” Michael Joseph photographs Travelers, men and women who traverse the U.S. by hitching rides and jumping freight trains, trading in “the rat’s treadmill and suffocating office cubicle for open air and freedom,” Joseph writes in a statement about the project. His portraits of this loose, far-ranging community show Travelers from the shoulders or waist up, posed against plain backgrounds, as if for edgy yearbook photos. His pictures catalogue the visual cues that his subjects use to mark their connection to the community, and show their individual role in it, from the bandanas (or “skanks,” as Joseph tells us they’re called), which identify the wearer as a member of the tribe, to the distinctive facial tattoos that many have. While some sitters seem to let down their guard, others look at Joseph with a touch of suspicion, perhaps a hazard of life on the road. “These portraits are not a documentation of Travelers’ lives, but rather a collective, close up look at individual souls,” he writes.
For close to 15 years, Rachael Dunville has been making portraits near her home town in the Missouri Ozarks, exploring a tension—often sexual—that can arise between photographer and subject. The series, called “Show Me State,” depicts men and women alone or in couples, lounging in bedrooms and living rooms or posed in backyards, often half dressed or in the process of revealing themselves. They gaze at the camera with expressions that range from seductive to guarded and sometimes both at once. Dunville writes about the work, “The images reveal the rapt attention between us—fostered by the reciprocity of looking and of being seen.”
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