Justine Kurland’s Smoke Bombs

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Justine Kurland, Smoke Bombs, 1998 (689.2000)

In Smoke Bombs, from one of Kurland’s earliest bodies series, Runaway Girls, the artist orchestrates narratives within landscapes, often the American West, and features teenaged girls as her models. The uncharted or forgotten spaces Kurland depicts capture the feral state of the runaway. The artist casts her girls into active roles, reinventing the Lost Boys narrative.  Kurland describes the process of this early work, the majority of which was made while pursuing her MFA at Yale, as an act of running away from the East Coast, when she herself drifted on extended road trips. While on the road, Kurland culls her female adolescent models from high schools and colleges; she pulls them along like seaweed for a collaborative moment where she arranges the scene and then documents the interactions between the individuals depicted. In recent years, Kurland has continued to photograph while driving across the country. Her newest work, This Train is Bound For Glory, explores the livelihood of the contemporary American drifter, as well as her relationship with her young son, who accompanies her on the road.

Kate Levy, ICP-Bard 2013

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