Story - NOMINEE: Matt Hamon
Chinook; The Ice Eater
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Chinook winds are dry, warm, down-slope, foehn winds that occur on the lee side of mountain ranges in the interior West of North America. Chinook is claimed (incorrectly) by popular folk-etymology to mean “ice-eater.” Climate change issues in the post-rural West are also encoded in this title. The photographs here are from an emerging project that includes landscapes, portraits, and architectural images of the rural American West, that contemplate drosscape between industry and wildlands, progress and stasis.
Post-rural describes themes emerging out of, and tangential to, a pastiche of Postmodern concepts. The themes, narratives, objects, and aesthetic sensibilities present in these images consider the boundaries between urban, suburban, rural and wilderness areas of the American West. Generally, post-rural themes consider the commodification, narratives and shifting mythologies of rural areas since the 19th century and earlier as urban areas encroach on rural lands or mechanized agriculture draws workers away from the rural landscape.
Such hybrid, incomplete integration seems to be a new and important demographic vector in the West, seen in other economies beyond academia. Indeed, the grafting of non-place-based industries, like data server farms, package processing depots, health care centers and internet start-up companies imply a more partial and contingent relationship to the land than ranches and mines. Perhaps this marks a redefinition of this place so steeped in mythic and legendary history.
Matt Hamon is a portrait photographer who lives in rural Montana. His photography exists conceptualy and aesthetically in the spaces between photojournalism and staged editorial imagery. Matt hails from a small, remote town in Northern California. A sense of place informed by wandering the woods as a child inspires his enquiry. Self-described as "post-rural"*, Matt currently lives in Potomac, Montana near the Blackfoot River and teaches in the School of Art at the University of Montana in Missoula. Matt is a featured artist in Scott Ligon's forthcoming book from Watson-Guptil/Random House, "Digital Art Revolution."