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Seabird is a book of moments observed by American photographer Bobby Doherty between 2014 and 2018.
Doherty makes photographs that get to the point. At first glance, some of the photographs in Seabird feel gloriously oversimplified, objects and situations simmered down to their bare constituent elements; the clearest glass on the reddest tablecloth, the wettest dew on the softest leaf. Doherty is quick to embrace both the meaningful and meaningless of everyday life with equal measure: emotive, bucolic landscapes and portraits sit alongside city trash, animals, food and flowers. What comes out in the end feels like a photographic egalitarianism, where the tiny and the huge, the mundane and the sublime, shake hands across pages.
Despite his acclaim as a still-life photographer, Doherty is keen to avoid categorisation or to overanalyse his images, placing himself in a lineage of those with a powerful urge to make photographs, consistently and extensively, without concern for cohesion or retrospection. Within this openness, Seabird becomes an identifiably human tapestry of images, suggesting the changing of moods, or the shifting of emotions. In the blink of an eye, the work jumps from Hallmark-greeting-card kitsch to wry juxtaposition, from the stereotypical to the absurd.
Despite this looseness, there is a forensic scrutiny to many images, in which every detail, colour and form demands attention. Through Bobby’s camera the mud and mixture of the human and natural world are flattened and shimmer with wonder, joyful and unashamedly sentimental.