Justine Kurland’s This Train presents images from road trips taken with her young son across the United States between 2005 and 2011. Revisiting these images, Kurland upends the conventional family album to tell a story of queer motherhood and deconstructs the familiar mythology of the American railroad as a pioneering symbol of modernity. To coincide with the release of This Train in March, photographs from the book will be exhibited at Higher Pictures.
Wednesday 24 January – Friday 16 March
16 Main Street, Ground Floor
New York 11201
Exhibition opening reception: Saturday 27 January 16:00-18:00 EST
About This Train
This new publication from Justine Kurland presents two interwoven narratives drawn from the road trips across the United States that she undertook with her young child between the years 2005 and 2010. The first thread is a sequence of arresting large-format photographs of her child and herself, disentangled from the renowned images of roads, trains, infrastructure, and fellow travelers Kurland was making at the same time. Revisiting these photographs, Kurland suggests a clarified reading of them as an anti-history of family and travel, upending the conventional family album to tell a story of queer motherhood and image-making in step with Kurland’s maternal line, for whom crossing the American landscape was a matter of dire necessity.
On the other side of this unspooling concertina publication are Kurland’s photographs of the railroads which traverse the American landscape. Deconstructing the familiar mythology of the railway as a pioneering symbol of modernity, these images observe the reality of the ways these routes carve and stain the landscape, often overwhelmed by surrounding nature, leaving behind barren strips of sun-stained asphalt and eerily perfect parallel tracks. Bookended by new texts from Constance Debré and Lily Cho, This Train treats the American landscape as the fabricated tableau that it is, a cultural fable which conceals histories of Chinese migrant labor and the human cost of freedom. Kurland re-appraises an interwoven set of paradigms which retain a tenacious grip on contemporary American life: the nuclear family, the open road, the violence of expansion, and the intractable force of the land itself.
Find out more here