Andrew Moore (born 1957) is widely acclaimed for his photographic series, usually taken over many years, which record the effect of time on the natural and built landscape. These series include work from Cuba, Russia, Times Square, Detroit, the High Plains of the United States, and most recently, the American South.
His newest book, entitled Dirt Meridian, is published by Damiani Editore and will be released in the Fall of 2015. The photographs were made over a ten-year period along the lands that lie west of the 100th meridian and addresses the history and mythology of this region known as “flyover country”. The book also includes a preface by the noted author Kent Haruf, as well other essays and an extensive set of endnotes.
Moore’s photographs are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the George Eastman House and the Library of Congress amongst many other institutions. He has received grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the New York State Council on the Arts, the J M Kaplan Fund, and the Cissy Patterson Foundation.
His previous bestselling book Detroit Disassembled, including an essay by Poet Laureate Philip Levine, was published in the spring of 2010, and accompanied an exhibition of the same title at the Akron Museum of Art. The exhibit has also traveled to the Queens Museum of Art, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and the National Building Museum.
In 2012, Damiani Editore published Cuba, a revised edition of his images from that island that spans 14 years of work and includes many new and unpublished photographs. Moore’s other books include: Inside Havana (2002), Governors Island (2004) and Russia, Beyond Utopia (2005). Additionally, his photographs have been appeared in Art in America, ArtNews, Wired, The New York Times Magazine, Harpers, New York Review of Books, Fortune, TIME, National Geographic and The New Yorker.
Moore produced and photographed “How to draw a bunny,” a documentary feature on the artist Ray Johnson. The film premiered at the 2002 Sundance Festival, where it won a Special Jury prize.
Mr. Moore was a lecturer on photography in the Visual Arts Program at Princeton University from 2001 to 2010. Presently he teaches a graduate seminar in the MFA Photography Video and Related Media program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
The bustling intersections of history, those places where multiple tangents of time overlap and tangle, have always lain at the heart of my photographic interests. In my projects such as those on Times Square, Cuba, and Detroit, I employed these inter-weavings to help define a particular moment of transition. During the last five years I have turned my attention southward, as at this juncture in time, many of the former narratives of the South are undergoing a broad redefinition. To address this shift is complicated, as it entails not only unearthing provocative facets of this new and unfolding reality, but also respecting the deep-rooted historical experiences of individuals and their communities.
In a sense, to photograph the South is to return to my own past, both in terms of my family roots as well as my beginnings as a photographer. I grew up hearing stories about the South from my maternal grandfather, who was a prominent Methodist minister from rural Tennessee. Later, as a young and aspiring photographer, my initial road trips were made to the surrounding counties of my grandfather’s birthplace, and not much later I moved to New Orleans, where I made a series about vanishing workshops in the Central Business District. Part of the appeal of photographing the South has always been its rich literary legacy, and my recent work continues my long-time collaboration with the southern writer Madison Smartt Bell.
There has always been a strong person-to-person research aspect to my work, as the intimacy of my pictures depends on building meaningful relationships with my subjects. One example of this came is an unexpected meeting I had a few years ago in Lower Alabama, where I was intrigued by remote house which was clad in heart pine boards turned entirely black. One afternoon I stopped by this home and beckoned from the outside. An older lady came from around back in a worn house dress complete with a pistol tucked underneath. She said, “Before I talk to strangers, I always ask this question: do you know the Lord?” After affirming that I did, I learned that her name was Pearlie and she lived alone in this rather forbidding structure. Since that day, I have met Pearlie many times, been to church with her as well as brought my own family to meet her. She invited me into her home, and, as my instincts had led me to believe, some of the rooms in her house were absolutely unique in their atmosphere and virtually unchanged since construction almost two centuries ago. The pictures that I made of Pearlie and her “black house” were very important clues, in that they showed me how deep history can be found in the seemingly most ordinary of settings.
These types of relationships are the foundation of my project on the South. Out of those experiences I hope to build a complex portrait of what I consider the most singular and vibrant culture in the United States.
image credit: Andrew Moore, Zydeco Zinger, Abandoned Six Flags Theme Park, New Orleans, Archival Pigment Print, 2012