This is the first U.S. presentation of the series in its entirety and is Lipper’s second exhibition with the gallery.
The fifty black-and-white prints comprising trip suggest a slow, hallucinatory journey through small-town America. Lipper’s intentional use of black-and-white film and the road trip genre align her work with the giants of 20th century documentary photography, recalling images of America that have become part of this country’s historical memory. It is from this position within the documentary canon, and with a nod to feminist methodology, that Lipper tests its boundaries and enacts a series of performative subversions to call into question the distinction between record and construction. Taken more broadly, the dependent relationship between literacy—being able to read an image, text, or other sign and parse its authenticity—and social and political order is paramount in Lipper’s work. Mistranslated, incomplete, fabricated, contextless, or unintelligible text appears across the photographs in trip, by pointing to the devastating effects of words losing their meaning.
From behind the camera, Lipper assumes the persona of a woman photographer-traveler from the East Coast working in the present to interrogate images and mythology from the past. She and her alter-ego reveal themselves in coded self-portraits that call attention to the photographic document’s subjectivity. They are seen in the picture of a bewigged mannequin set in the woods; their presence is suggested by the word “motel,” scrawled in soap onto a bathroom mirror; and they are the women to whom a series of baby portraits appear, as unnerving reminders of a social imperative, or as sweet mementos of family life.
Positioned between her earlier project Grapevine, 1988 – 1992, and her most recent series Domesticated Land, 2012 – 2016, trip, 1993 – 1999 is the second installment of a threepart, thirty-year journey west across the United States.