Oscillating between the elaboration of a biographical narrative and the production of a social portrait, Nick Meyer’s work portrays the depression that grips a small mill town in western Massachusetts, the town where the author grew up, witnessing the various economic upheavals that the same town has undergone between enthusiasm, growth, regrowth, reconstruction and the depression due to the process of de-industrialisation that has characterised most of the last decades of the history of industry in the United States.
Inserting himself in a consolidated tradition of authors who have recounted the American territory and the great economic depressions that have disrupted its landscape and humanity, Nick Meyer’s work employs a gaze that departs from works such as those of Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Carl Mydans for an ability to renew the same gaze and realise his images in a way that brings his work closer to a cinematographic, rhythmic vision.
This author’s images seem to be taken in the course of a passage, a close but at the same time light crossing, which sees and narrates the community that lines the streets of the place, producing a dramatic and honest overall portrait.
In The Local the images fow one after the other to compose, impression after impression, the instances of a story whose rhythm brings us closer to life and whose tones, although diferent, recall those that we can fnd in the more radical flms of a director such as Ken Loach, an author to whom Nick Meyer’s work can also be compared by virtue of the social commitment that characterises both projects, even though they are set in two diferent geographical and temporal areas.
The Local is a project that tells the story of a city caught between aspiration and decline, a dramatic documentation of the daily struggles in a place that appears to be frozen in time, the victim of a standstill from which it is difcult to imagine a shift capable of changing the sign of the conditions that aggravate it.
Through numerous portraits, landscapes, fragments of life, scenes of ordinary reality, Nick Meyer sketches the narrative of an economic depression, ofering an experience of it that is characterised by the ability to report an ambivalence of signs.
The feeling of familiarity and at the same time of strangeness that characterises the images of this author seem to indicate how, despite the fact that the drama he recounts is close to him and imposes a sense of empathy on those who observe the images, it is otherwise the story of a condition that is unacceptable to anyone and therefore rightly alien to any human vision.
With this project Mayer ofers us a portrait – denunciation, in which the now sadly familiar “left behind” USA is embodied in a precise place, on precise faces. Stories, bodies and streets are virtually tangible through the work of this author who does not spare us the horror vacui and cruelty of the facts, an examination of reality that can only lead to the need for a profound questioning of what “local” means and what value this defnition may have in an account of the world spoilt by the disciplining expressions of a post-industrialised capitalism that seems, today more than ever, incapable of renewing its own narrative and reversing the direction of those depressive signs it carries.
Nick Meyer (b. 1981) is an award-winning photographer who captures the American spirit through his raw depictions of the American landscape and those who inhabit it.
His work has been exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the US and abroad, including: Untitled, The Dirty Truth, Northampton, MA; Green River, Iceberger Gallery, San Francisco; Pop-Up Show, OPENSPACE Gallery, New York; and Milchstrasse, OUAV, Vienna. He is the author of the book Pattern Language (2010) published by Brick Publishing, and has been featured in publications such as the SF Bay Guardian and Vice Magazine.
Meyer holds an MFA from California College of the Arts, and earned his BFA from Massachusetts College of Art in 2005. He is based in Northampton, MA. Most recently, Meyer is the Schoolhouse Gallery Juror Award recipient. He lives in Northampton, MA.