Nevven is proud to present Driftless, the first solo exhibition in Sweden by the Wisconsin—based fine art documentary photographer Jason Vaughn. Focused on the scenes, settings, and characters of everyday life in Midwestern America, Vaughn’s photography captures this rural and peripheral area of the United States in a way which is at once scenic and deeply reflective.
The American’s latest series, which is at the centre of this exhibition, explores the concept of stability and the contrasting desires of becoming lodged somewhere and breaking off. Right after the birth of his second child and recovering from leukaemia, of which he was diagnosed in 2011 at age 32, Vaughn found himself living temporarily for one year in La Crosse, a small community in the Mississippi River’s Driftless Region. Wrestling with the desire to settle down and the feeling of being just in transition, fascinated by the symbolisms connected to the river landscapes which are depicted in this series — Jason Vaughn has explored symbolically how people drift, become entangled somewhere often by pure coincidence, and occasionally — but not always — break free.
There is a rare quality to Vaughn’s photography. With his work he is able to abstract universal themes and feelings from the simplest images and to deeply touch his viewers transcending their knowledge or cultural comprehension of the depicted subjects. An abandoned carpet — entangled in the tall grass next to the Mississippi riverbed — poetically becomes part of a landscape which beautifully includes it, both chromatically and metaphorically. A boat appears through the deep mist and temporarily takes centre stage — we could almost hear its rattling sound in the thin cold winter air — just to quickly disappear again, fading as a vision in an otherwise barren landscape.
In the photographs included in Driftless — a series expanded in the book of the same name published this September by TBW Books — we perceive a constant sense of floating, a delicate metaphor of the clash between the impermanence of anything in life and our natural tendency to strive for stability. We believe that Jason Vaughn is able to channel these existential feelings in this selection of astounding photographs of apparently small and irrelevant details of everyday life in Middle America. With their sheer beauty of form and composition, the pictures included in Driftless are able to carry us elsewhere and leave us beautifully entangled between images and thoughts.