andrew moore

Andrew Moore's "Blue Sweep"

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Blue Sweep, an exhibition of new photographs taken in Alabama and Mississippi by American artist and MFA Photo/Video faculty Andrew Moore, is on view this month at Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York. Following in-depth explorations of the economically ravaged city of Detroit (2007 – 2009) and the mythic high plains region along the 100th meridian (2011 – 2014), Blue Sweep continues the artist’s investigation of “the inner empire” of the United States.

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The result of twelve trips over three years, Moore’s work in the American South uses historic homes, both grand and modest, the preserved backroom of a Jewish social club, the curtained entry to a Freemason’s temple, a worm-eaten map of Hale County and a ruined bridge in a verdant swamp to suggest the economic, social and cultural divisions that characterize the South and the love of history, tradition and land that binds its citizens. The exhibition juxtaposes three different views of domestic dwellings which allude to these themes: the richly adorned library of a grand plantation house; a modest bare-floor bedroom decorated with emblems of God and country hung on unpainted wooden walls; and a remote trailer home with a dirt swept yard, a traditional landscaping practice brought to the south by West African slaves.

The son of a Connecticut architect, Moore has frequently used architectural structures as a means to explore themes of time, culture and a complicated history of place. While he has often undertaken a study of place on the verge of change - the shuttered theaters of New York’s 42nd Street preceding its remaking as a vortex of consumerism, Havana just prior to the suspension of U.S. travel restrictions and early post-Cold War Russia before the embrace of western capitalism - the images in the exhibition Blue Sweep suggest a place lost in time and in full embrace of the old.

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Born in 1957, Andrew Moore lives and works in New York City. His work has been featured in solo and group museum exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art, the Akron Art Museum, the Queens Museum of Art, Colby College Museum of Art, and the National Building Museum, Washington D.C. He will be featured in upcoming exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the San Francisco Museum of Art. Moore’s photographs have been acquired by numerous museums in the United States and internationally, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Library of Congress, the Israel Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Yale University Art Gallery, and the Detroit Institute of Arts, among others. Five monographs of his work have been published: Inside Havana (2002, Chronicle), Russia (2005, Chronicle), Detroit Disassembled (2010, Damiani), and Andrew Moore: Cuba (2012, Damiani). In 2019, Damiani will release Blue Alabama, a monograph on Moore’s work in the American South.

Faculty, Andrew Moore featured on The Bitter Southerner

Blue Alabama

Photographs and Words by Andrew Moore

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Forty years ago this August, Madison Bell and I were at the end of a month-long road trip across the South when we stopped off to visit his friend Carroll in Opelika, Alabama.

One afternoon, she took us outside town to where a house had just burned down. Most of the structure was gone except for an old stove; on top, a handful of utensils had turned molten in the heat and melted almost flat into the iron top. In a nearby hayfield, we found an abandoned car stuffed with brightly colored clothes, and after we each picked something to put on, we played in the growing darkness, like owners of the place.

Grounds of the Snow Hill Institute in Snow Hill,   Alabama, 2017

Grounds of the Snow Hill Institute in Snow Hill, Alabama, 2017

From far off, we saw a car’s headlights come on, watched it come down the dirt road all the way to us like a shot, barely braking before it pulled into the driveway. A middle-aged black man got out, fixed on our ghastly troupe with undisguised anger and yelling, “What y’all doin’ in my clothes?”

The stench of smoke in my mouth suddenly dissolved into the taste of fear. Carroll’s voice pitched high with innocence and apologies, the clothes regained the trunk, and amidst a cascade of his curses, we shrank into the darkness like those pooling forks and spoons.

“House for Sale,” Eufaula,   Alabama, 2016
“House for Sale,” Eufaula, Alabama, 2016
“Gaines House,” Dayton,   Alabama, 2016
“Gaines House,” Dayton, Alabama, 2016

In the four decades since, I’ve hardly ever been threatened by a property owner, and I never again went around in burned houses with other people’s clothes on.

Usually, it all goes much better if one gets a little conversation going first, but in the South I would say that’s a moral imperative. Fortunately it’s not too hard to get a discussion going, especially if the “magnolia connection” is working: Since so many families are intertwined in their histories and relations, there is inevitably some overlap that can be counted on. Otherwise, when meeting strangers in the South, its best to be humble, not in much of a hurry, and above all, to be a ready listener.

To continue reading Moore's writings on his time in the south, please click here.

Geneva Ward in Boligee,   Alabama 2016
Geneva Ward in Boligee, Alabama 2016

Andrew Moore is an American photographer and filmmaker known for large format color photographs of Detroit, Cuba, Russia, the American High Plains, and New York’s Times Square theaters. Moore’s photographs employ the formal vocabularies of architectural and landscape photography and the narrative approaches of documentary photography and journalism to detail remnants of societies in transition. His photographic essays have been published in monographs, anthologies, and magazines including The New York Times MagazineTimeThe New YorkerNational GeographicHarper’s MagazineThe New York Review of BooksFortuneWired, and Art in America. Moore’s video work has been featured on PBS and MTV; his feature-length documentary about the artist Ray Johnson, “How to Draw a Bunny,” won the Special Jury Prize at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.