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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Artist Lecture: Brian Ulrich

‘Toledo Dan’ was the first person I met at Brian Ulrich’s lecture. I think the majority of his audience quickly became amused with this character’s generosity with words; it was a one-sided conversation that drew interest through the phenomenon of its documentation more so than its content. I was instantly drawn in; it was a rare and refreshingly pleasant experience for a photographer to share this audible work, when it was probably obvious that the visual evidence of his profession was expected. People would laugh at Toledo Dan’s elaborateness, and I did too, until a genuine interest in the human desire to connect had surfaced. These oral histories of war through a stranger’s tongue were manageable because I could not fathom an idea that was more harmonious than what Ulrich had acknowledged, in its simplest form.

His exploration of this desire shows in the way he chooses to approach his projects. I was granted a guilty satisfaction from the IKEA warzone images; I feel a great part of their success definitely stems from the playfulness that exists in the work, how patriotic consumerism poses as a potential joke and sad reality at the same time is funny but equally frightening. I recently discovered the guest post on his blog “Not If But When” by his friend Shawnee Barton and it is a wonderful addition to the idea. The ‘Spilled Milk’ and ‘Homeland Security Threat Level Today’ images left the biggest imprint because their simple compositions exposed an objectivity that I found quite graceful.
I was moved by Ulrich’s apprehensive concern for his viewers’ response on the subjects transformed from RETAIL to THRIFT. He wasn’t trying to ridicule the lower class, but show the extensive results of thoughtless consumerism. His clarity was a success, and so is his work.

Brian Ulrich everything
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