Joel Ross’ ‘Alleys And Parking Lots’ Photo Series Is A Fascinating Documentary Of Small Town America
Joel Ross‘ ‘Alleys And Parking Lots’ photo series is a collaboration he recently did with photographer Jason Creps. Like his previous work this series is centred on public signage, text and how it relates to the urban environment in specific the in-between spaces, the parking lots and alleys of small town America.
This work is more than just the photo, it’s an act, a performance, as Ross and Creps construct the signs before secretly installing, documenting and abandoning them at locations between Chicago and Southern Illinois. The locations often picked for their ominous feel or dramatic lighting all of which go towards telling a story – a narrative of isolation, space, fear, melancholy.
Here’s what Ross has to say about the process and the work:
The majority of my recent sculptures have taken the form of roadside signage, which are made and then sited at locations ranging from single-lane gravel farm roads to major highways. Most of these interventions are not formally authorized so the work’s encounter with its initial audience, travelers on the road, is often rather brief. The signs are left on site until they are removed by authorities or by citizens. Most of the signs are removed within 24 hours. A series of photographs of these installations and related works on paper become a record of these events as well as the primary point of engagement with their second audience, the art-going public.
The preliminary stage of his work is experimentation with text and image executed as very graphic, brightly colored works on paper. The text and/or images from these drawings often lead to signage-sculptures of one kind or another. The messages in the drawings (and subsequent signage) are culled from a variety of sources including news stories, advertising, radio reports, t-shirts, posters, graffiti, and bits of overheard conversation. Sometimes the messages presented are direct quotes. Sometimes they are an amalgamation of several sources. In other cases, they are fabrications intended to resonate and reverberate with the authorial voice shifting, vibrating in opposition and sometimes collapsing altogether.
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