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Tim Davis describes his work as follows: “[I am] a photographer who sees unintended derangements of objects in offices, hospitals, strip malls and the political sphere.” My Life in Politics is Davis’s treatise on the state of contemporary politics in the United States—politics as a banality that has become aestheticized and abstracted from real issues of power. As Peter Eeley, of Frieze magazine, states, “What if campaign signs, badges, bumper stickers and flags aren’t simply the ephemera of Americans’ political lives, but their substance as well? That this phenomenon finds resonance in photography’s arm’s length access to its subjects makes My Life in Politics deeply sad and grand at the same time.” Throughout the images presented in this volume, freedom of expression is exhibited at its most casual and cursory, with political, commercial, and populist signage jostling for space and attention in the social landscape. In addition to dissecting the current disenchantment and dissociation that has become American civic life, this selection of images investigates the unifying force running through all of Davis’s many photographic series. In this visual world, light and color are more than aesthetic and have their own specific purposes: to invite citizens to share their money with corporations, to keep workers working, to describe democracy, to draw maps of power and ostensible values. In pursuit of this theme, Tim Davis’s work represents photographic seeing at its finest and most subtle—he directly continues Stephen Shore’s colorist tradition, meshing the same careful management of a quotidian palette with an incisive eye for those points at which light bends and refracts, becoming something other than mere illumination.
“Mr. Davis aspires to something of Walker Evans’s deadpan gaze, his dry wit and laconic curiosity. His photographs, refusing to propagandize, imply a pity for both left and right, a sense that democracy is messy business. . . . But it also reminds us that the camera, by its nature, can lend a curious grace to whatever it sees, no matter how forlorn or marginal.” — Michael Kimmelman