Moral Minority
Moral Minority
Moral Minority
Moral Minority
Moral Minority
Moral Minority
Moral Minority
Moral Minority
Moral Minority
Moral Minority
Moral Minority
Moral Minority

Moral Minority

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  • Stanley Barker 2024
  • Hardback, 1st edition, 184p
  • New 

Sergio Purtell arrived in the USA in the early 1970s, having fled an imminent dictatorship in Chile, by General Augusto Pinochet. Here he glimpsed the American dream, and sought to unravel the nations mysteries as an outsider who had witnessed the capriciousness of power and the tenacity of the displaced.

Made between 1977 and the early-90s Sergio Purtell’s American photographs are imprints of life in a country fixated on its duelling myths of emancipation and conquest. From collective exuberance to rural serenity, Purtell’s images of fairs, parades and a life lived outside, display moments both commonplace and distinct. They search out under-swells of feelings that fleck public space with intimacy and interaction. They register the human tenderness that flows from rare moments of rest.

"The first thing I noticed was the lack of walls.  In Santiago, Chile, the houses were closed off and private. In Hamilton, Ohio–where I arrived in 1972 as a 17-year-old exchange student—the houses were separated by white picket fences. They were easy to leap over and neighbours were friendly. At home in Chile, I knew about America by its TV shows and films, its music and freedom and possibility. The prim white fences looked the part, a display of affluence within reach. But beyond them, I also glimpsed a sprawling, enigmatic landscape where the American dream awoke to reality. 

“Today, this country is not the same place I arrived in. A wall is being constructed along the southern border. As I made these pictures, a wall was coming down in East Berlin. Moral Minority is a meditation on this collapse of conscience. To assemble the fragments, it looks to the narratives of those pushed to the periphery, and to those who can testify to the intricate predicament between right and wrong.”