THE BOOK

Black Dog Publishing in association with Ryerson Image Centre, 2014

Dust Jacket Flap Text

Since 1995, Canadian photographer Phil Bergerson has made numerous, extended road-trips throughout the United States, criss-crossing the continent in search of the scattered remnants of the ‘American dream’. American Artifacts assumes the form of a sweeping topographical survey, mirroring Bergerson’s own peripatetic wanderings, and encapsulating his distinctive way of merging the roles of documentary photographer and cultural commentator in his images. Drawing upon the American social landscape tradition (which Walker Evans established with his seminal 1938 publication American Photographs, and which Robert Frank, Nathan Lyons, and Lee Friedlander subsequently extended), Bergerson finds his material amid the melancholic detritus of the urban fabric: in modest store window displays, hand-painted murals, graffiti, and crudely made signs. A chaotic urban landscape emerges, one engendered by unmoored dreams, raw desires, simmering fears, commercial fantasies, rampant patriotism, and a smouldering violence. This book presents America in seven suites of meticulously sequenced, often provocative, pairs of sumptuous colour photographs, which read as discrete chapters in a vast, unfinished novel.

David Harris
Ryerson University