Photographic study of the rural Midwest – the land both rural and wild and the people.
The Chase Coggins Fellowship was my first indication that I was entitled to take myself seriously as a visual thinker. I’ve attached one image from my trip. It’s a shot of almost nothing. A roadside tavern in a desolate spot. An expanse of sky. A truck, a car, two dumpsters. And, almost incidentally, a neon sign submitting the following description: WEST. A single syllable to define a cardinal direction, a philosophical orientation and a part of the country.
In various ways, it is a direct and unmistakable precursor to so much of the work I’ve made over the years. One work that comes to mind is “The United States of Nothing,” a piece that inscribes, in neon over wall paint, the names and geographical coordinates for American places unified by a theme of nothingness (towns named, for example, Nix, Nada and Neutral). Or “Buildings Made of Sky,” a photographic series revealing a secret city made of the spaces between buildings found by inverting the architecture of NYC. (The works mentioned here are in the permanent collections of The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, respectively.)
The same philosophical and formal concerns that first appeared in my work from the fellowship continue to animate my work today.
Peter Wegner’s website
TED talk by Peter Wegner