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Whitten Sabbatini (b. 1990, Mississippi) received his MFA from Columbia College in 2017. His work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, including recent shows at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and Mana Contemporary in Chicago. Sabbatini worked as the Curatorial Review Coordinator at the Museum of Contemporary Photography from 2014 – 2017. His work has been published frequently in periodicals including The New Yorker, The New York Times, Bloomberg, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, Aint-Bad Magazine: The American South and Mossless: The United States 2003 – 2013. Sabbatini’s photographs are held in various permanent collections, including The Do Good Fund, Candela Books, and The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.
In 2014, I found myself living outside of the American South for the first time in order to attend a three year graduate program located just up Interstate 55, the stretch of asphalt that links Jackson to Memphis, and Memphis to Chicago. I’m not quite able to put into any sort of sufficient words the kind of dizzying pull that the region has on me, but while struggling through school in a new place, I constantly sought after others who had previously expressed similar feelings: The way Carson McCullers describes relationships in a small Georgia town in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Jr’s Kimbrough’s sad, drunken lyrics in recordings from the Mississippi Hill Country.
The pictures that form Another Day in Paradise were made on several trips taken back home between 2015 – 2016. As a child, I remember my father once using the phrase, “It’s another day in Paradise,” as a way in which to show how grateful he was for the day’s simple blessings. As I grew older, I began to admire this phrase and what I believed it represented, as it was spoken with such sincerity by a man adopted from Italy and raised on the land of the Mississippi Delta.
For me personally, Paradise is the type of place where every ordinary day could be seen as a sort of idealised perfection, one where folks toil the earth, work on their cars, and spray paint “Honk If You’re Horny!” on interstate bridges.
Image credit: Whitten Sabbatini, Couple in Park, 2016, Archival pigment print, 16 x 20 inches