Justine Kurland: Highway Kind

Crash
Work by Justine Kurland.
Justine Kurland lecture
Justine Kurland during her lecture in the Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium. William Staffeld / AAP
Justine Kurland lecture
Justine Kurland responds to a question during the post-lecture Q&A session. William Staffeld / AAP
Justine Kurland lecture
Department Chair and Professor Michael Ashkin introduces Justine Kurland. William Staffeld / AAP
Work by Justine Kurland. Justine Kurland during her lecture in the Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium. William Staffeld / AAP Justine Kurland responds to a question during the post-lecture Q&A session. William Staffeld / AAP Department Chair and Professor Michael Ashkin introduces Justine Kurland. William Staffeld / AAP

Justine Kurland was born in 1969 in Warsaw, New York. She received her B.F.A from the School of Visual Arts in 1996, and her M.F.A. from Yale University in 1998.

Kurland's work has been exhibited extensively at museums and galleries in the U.S. and internationally. Recent museum exhibitions include Open Road at Detroit Institute of Arts and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas; Looking Forward: Gifts of Contemporary Art from the Patricia A. Bell Collection at the Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, New Jersey; More American Photographs at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio; and Off the Grid #1 and #2 at Fotodok in The Netherlands. She was the focus of a solo exhibition at CEPA Gallery in Buffalo, New York; and MoMA's exhibition Into the Sunset, in 2009. Her exhibition, Sincere Auto Care, was shown at Mitchell-Innes & Nash gallery in the fall of 2014.

Kurland has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Vice magazine. Reviews of her work have appeared in Art Forum, Frieze magazine, Time Out, and The New Yorker among others. Coromandel published a monograph of her work, titled Spirit West, in 2001; Artspace published Old Joy in 2003; Ecstatic Peace Library published This Train Is Bound for Glory in 2009; and Black Threads of Meng Chiao in collaboration with John Yau was published in fall 2015. Aperture will publish a monograph of her work this fall, titled Highway Kind.

Work by Kurland is in the public collections of institutions including the Whitney Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, and the International Center of Photography, all in New York City; the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC; and the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal. In 2013, she was awarded The New York Foundation of the Arts' Artists' Fellowship for Photography. She is represented by Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York City.

Kurland will discuss work made on extended American road trips over the past decade and a half. Her work focuses on nomadic subcultures — train-hoppers, hitchhikers, and drifters. The images are narratives gleaned from America's dream of itself: a collective identity based on a firm faith in the inalienable right to freedom. They are portals into the not-quite-real, not-quite-fictional realm of the American frontier.

Pastoral themes explored in her earlier work are cut with a new sense of urgency, born of the struggle to leave a home that didn't feel like home, to go it alone, to say fuck you to parents, God, and country. A forbidding realism and an increasing quality of "matter-of-factness" has subsumed the nostalgia for Edenic nature. It forces into stark relief whatever rarified traces of idealism remain in the landscape.