First published in 1992 to wide critical acclaim,Pictures From Home is Larry Sultan’s pendant to his parents. Sultan returned home to Southern California periodically in the 1980s and the decade-long sequence moves between registers, combining contemporary photographs with film stills from home movies, fragments of conversation, Sultan’s own writings and other memorabilia. The result is a narrative collage in which the boundary between the documentary and the staged becomes increasingly ambiguous. Simultaneously the distance usually maintained between the photographer and his subjects also slips in an exchange of dialogue and emotion that is unique to this work.
Significantly increasing the page count of the original book, this MACK design ofPictures From Homeclarifies the multiplicity of voices – both textual and pictorial – in order to afford a fresh perspective of this seminal body of work. Emphasising the cinematic motion of the family’s home videos, the Super-8 film stills have been newly digitised and magnified, with select scenes running full-bleed across double-page spreads. Meanwhile, Sultan’s photographs of his parents as they go about their daily lives – against the quintessential backdrop of the Reagan-era American dream – are supplemented with previously unpublished images. Most significantly, the book honours Sultan as the oft-hailed ‘King of Colour Photography’.
"What drives me to continue this work is difficult to name. It has more to do with love than with sociology. With being a subject in the drama rather than a witness. And in the odd and jumbled process of working, everything shifts: the boundaries blur, my distance slips, the arrogance and illusion of immunity falters. I wake up in the middle of the night, stunned and anguished. These are my parents. From that simple fact, everything follows." – Larry Sultan
‘I wanted to do something so absolutely different, and physical, and in a certain way, kind of ill-conceived… I took my camera and went underwater in a bunch of pools. And made pictures.’
Between 1978 and 1982, in a departure from the collaborative conceptual work that he had become known for, Larry Sultan photographed people learning to swim in public pools in San Francisco. Initially inspired by black-and-white documentary photograhs he found in a Red Cross swimming manual, Sultan soon began exploring an urge to create pictures that were physical, sensual, immersive, and painterly. The resulting work is saturated with colour and inflected by the unpredictable forms and chance abstractions which emerge through the distorted refractions of the water as a second lens. Often beautiful and regularly unsettling in their ambiguity, the series builds to create a feeling of sensory immersion alive with the fluid and uncertain atmospheres to which Sultan was drawn.
This collection presents all the pictures from the series Sultan himself chose and exhibited, and expands to include additional images he marked on contact sheets as well as further selections from his archive which he likely never even reviewed.