Much of Mitch Epstein's work is…a reflection on America, on American values and ideology, on America's place in the world today.
The American ideology par excellence is of course the ideology of Manifest Destiny, formulated in the mid-19th century as a means of justifying westward expansion…the idea that America, and individual Americans, are predestined to greatness, to ever increasing power and wealth.
Epstein's photographs leave us with a feeling of discomfort. The dream of endless power seems to have reached its end…. Consumer society, with its endless desire for energy, has ended up consuming itself.
It is the formal and associative elements in Epstein's images that lift them to a higher plane. These are not documents in the strict sense, because they transcend and reinvent the objects photographed and in the process invest them with symbolic meaning.
What makes Mitch Epstein's photographs so powerful is that these ideas are expressed purely formally, through the many layers and associations the works evoke.
Rachel Esner, Tubelight no. 52 (2007)
Monograph courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co. and the artist