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American dream

Nov 14, 2019 | REAL|People

Award-winning photographer Barry Salzman reveals The Other Side of Christmas at Deepest Darkest gallery

Barry Salzman is an award-winning contemporary artist who currently works in photography, video and mixed media and whose projects have been shown widely around the world. His photographic work in particular, began with a fascination for the practice as a teenager, during a time when it served as a way for him to grapple with the racial segregation in Apartheid South Africa.

Today, his work continues to explore challenging themes around social, political and economic narratives, often coming down to the core concept of identity. Born in Zimbabwe, he has been based in New York City for the last 30 years, identifying more as a New Yorker than an American. He struggled to assimilate into American culture, often identifying as “foreign” to his fellow Americans – a tension that bleeds into his work and which forms the basis for his exhibition, The Other Side of Christmas.

In his artist statement for the show, Salzman writes: “When the time came for me to consider the next phase of my life as an artist, I first set out to understand what other parts of America really looked like. I wanted to see beyond the flimsy veil of its official image of equality and opportunity, comfort and confidence – ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’.”

In The Other Side of Christmas, Salzman mines numerous themes – identity, place, belonging – and in large part examines what it means to be an ‘American’. In its stylistic execution, the photographic series draws on the rich tradition of the road trip – that journey of discovery that the open road presents and its capacity to facilitate understanding. “As I traversed the country, it was blatantly apparent that for many Americans, perhaps even the majority, the lives they live have little bearing on the promise of that often romanticised dream held by so many who seek to be ‘American’,” says Salzman.

The Other Side of Christmas will be showing at Deepest Darkest gallery in Cape Town until 29 December 2019.

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