Edition 2006


American Night

“He’s one of the top representatives of English social photography. He can photograph a Social Security office somewhere near Birmingham, or a perfectly ordinary intersection, and we’re riveted”.  Raymond Depardon
American Night
Paul Graham’s photographs touch upon the social fracture of America - the great divide - between included and excluded, white and black, have and have-not. It is a simple topic, shunned these days or dealt with through usually mediocre photo-journalism. American Night embraces this neglected and often clichéd territory in a series of shocking images which lodge firmly in our unconsciousness as they slip between the categories of art and document. The majority of the images are high key photographs which give the feeling of stepping out of a sheltered place into the sunlight, temporarily blinding the viewer with a whiteness that is overwhelming and endless. Drained of colour, shadow and form, they resonate with the lives of those they portray walking, carrying, waiting and wandering in a whiteness that is bleached and endless, until the sequence snaps momentarily - either to a vibrant full colour image of a new house, a “dream home”, with blue sky, green grass, and a verdant palette that is perfect beyond attainment - or to an intensely dark street portrait, before returning to the endless blinding whiteness of everyday life. The images are not just opposites in their paucity or wealth of colour, but also in their content: these perfect homes are unobtainable to those walking in the burnt landscape, they are a mirage, a dream or promise that can almost never be reached. We have stumbled into the chasm between promise and actuality, hope and reality, dreams and truth. These photographs were made between 1998 and 2002 in many locations across America, including Los Angeles, Memphis, Detroit, NYC and Atlanta. The title, American Night, refers to a technique in film making where night footage is shot in daylight. In 1973 Francois Truffaut made La Nuit américaine, which in English was titled Day for Night.

Exhibition organised in collaboration with Anthony Reynolds Gallery (London), Carlier/Gebauer (Berlin) and the Galerie des Filles du Calvaire (Paris).

  • Institutional partners

    • République Française
    • Région Provence Alpes Côté d'Azur
    • Département des Bouches du Rhône
    • Arles
    • Le Centre des monuments nationaux est heureux de soutenir les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles en accueillant des expositions dans l’abbaye de Montmajour
  • Main partners

    • Fondation LUMA
    • BMW
    • SNCF
    • Kering
  • Media partners

    • Arte
    • Lci
    • Konbini
    • Le Point
    • Madame Figaro
    • France Culture