Ethan Aaro Jones photographs from ‘Last Summer’ are just that. Summer; long, hot, languid, gentle. And in these pastoral pictures he lays it on thick, gives us dog day afternoons of swimming, eating ice-cream, having BBQs, doing summer jobs, watching sunsets and above all being with family and friends.
Of course this is all fiction. Jones is not documenting his idyllic days in the sun rather he’s presenting us with a fictional narrative of time past, a re-creation of a perfect Summer that only exists in our memories, dreams and a place that we all aspire to year after year. Time off lying under a hot sun, lolling about in the water and feasting and drinking to our hearts content. A reward for being hard working industrious members of society. A fabrication, a grand delusion we all suffer from. We only have to look at our own idyllic photographs to remind ourselves of a moment that glosses over the darkness of reality.
There is nothing spectacular in these photographs rather Jones wallows in the ordinary, in the majesty of the environment in which he finds himself. Everything is slow and has a warm soft glow. The people in this pictures are innocent and happy, far removed from the stresses of their reality.
And here, in the midst of winter, I too look once again to next Summer. To my time in the sun, the outdoors, the BBQs and beers on the stoop. I can’t wait. It’s going to be perfect. Like it always is. Here’s what Jones has to say about the work:
These are photographs of summer. In particular, I’m exploring how summer is a cultural creation based on dreams and idyllic memories that often have underlying imperfections. The pleasures of summer are now reconciled with sun over-exposure, erosion, bygone eras, and the impending winter. As time goes by and seasons change, anticipated celebration becomes melancholy, for summer is never as good as it used to be. The American Summer is still the reward earned for living the American Dream, but it is also an elaborate fiction.