“The road has taught me what I know today - For years I’ve travelled with my cameras capturing moments of time with the people the road has led to me - These are the stories I have waited to tell.”
Hunter Barnes is one of the most significant and interesting documentary photographers working in America today. His beautifully sensitive photographs document aspects of America’s disappearing sub cultures and fringe groups.
The exhibition - spanning fifteen years on the road - documents the people and aspects of American culture and communities so often ignored by the mainstream. Hunter Barnes’ artistic gaze focuses on the faces of proud and diverse groups of people who are consistently misrepresented in the modern American narrative.
Hunter cherishes the friendships he builds with people who recognize his sincerity and allow him access to their fascinating private worlds. After establishing their trust over meaningful dialogue and shared experiences, they allow him to frame them as they are and where they dwell. As Nathaniel Kilcer writes in his foreword to Hunter’s book A Testimony of Serpent Handling (published in 2012), “Hunter leads with modest curiosity, expectation suspended, the journey his calling. He seeks out forgotten quarters and the stories concealed there.”
In the same vein, the photographs in the exhibition capture rare moments and scenes most people will never get to experience first-hand during their lifetime. “To be able to form a bond with such disparate communities as the Rednecks, Nez Perce, Bloods, Serpent Handlers, CA State Prisoners, Bikers and Lowriders, is a rare thing,” comments Magnum Photos’ Michael Shulman in his afterword. “These are people that would probably not be at the same party, but Hunter has found something to share with all of them. They have all taken him in to their families and lives, for a while, and now we are privileged to see the result of that trust.”
Hunter shoots exclusively in analogue using black and white film, “In the end, film provides a fitting metaphor for Hunter’s entire process: it takes a long time to earn the trust of these people, and it takes time to commit them to paper.”
Michael Shulman, comments, “Contemporary American culture has led to a homogenization and flattening of uniqueness and eccentricity but the people depicted here have managed to hold on to what makes them special. They are exuberantly out of the mainstream, and each group is like their own fiefdom.”
This is a very special visual account and the journey that Hunter’s photographs take the viewer on, and the people he encounters on the way, will live long in the memory.