Paul Graham – American Night
It was announced this week that Paul Graham is the 2012 recipient of the Hasselblad Award. Grahams extensive career, over 25 years, has often highlighted the social divides present in the USA and UK; his numerous books on the subject have become highly collectible, not least the multi-award winning A Shimmer Of Possibility. In his book American Night, published by Steidl, Graham juxtaposes images of the American Dream with what for many is the American Reality, the gaping void between rich and poor, black and white. The subjects in his images are often solitary figures shown at a distance, the images almost completely bled of colour and depth so that the subjects become almost invisible. In contrast, there are portraits showing the poor, the disadvantaged and the destitute close up and in full colour as if holding up a declaration of what is all around us in many cities in the US but so often ignored. At the opposite end of the spectrum Graham shows the American Dream of the new car and manicured home in such vibrant technicolour and perfection that they look like film sets.
The theme of the book is reflected and reinforced by the binding and the limited text inside. The hardback is crystal white, with the title embossed on the front; inside the text is white on white.