Dave Hebb (b. 1966, Detroit, MI) is a visual artist and educator working primarily with photography and video. He lives and works in the Catskill region of New York State, which often serves as the background and subject for his investigation of the landscape as personal metaphor. His work explores the relationship between the individual and the natural environment as mediated through memory, technology and post-industrial infrastructure. Pursuit of Happiness Historically photographs have served as tangible documents or memories, usually of significant moments from our daily lives such as vacations, birthdays, weddings and other rites of passage. We tend to use photography as a way to not only document these moments, but to construct and shape them as joyful occasions worthy of remembering. The family photographer composes the scene carefully to include the most significant landmarks and events while encouraging a uniformity of smiling faces despite the disparate range of temperaments and states of mind. These constructed images serve as implanted memories, which allow us to remember past events with fondness, warmth and nostalgia for a time and state of being that never truly existed. Certainly our lives do in fact include inspiring and happy memories, but the photographs can never quite capture the essence of those moments adequately, and more importantly they purposefully attempt to mask any sign of melancholy, uncertainty or fear for the future that is often the subtext for these types of life changing. We casually ignore any disconcerting elements or emotions that might be lurking in the background as a distraction from our higher truth of the moment as we’d like to remember it. In the 21st century that process has evolved into a more instantaneous method of validating and sharing those otherwise personal and intimate moments. If we don’t photograph it and instantly post it online we feel as if it didn’t really happen. Now, as in the past, the photograph serves not only as documentation and validation, but also as a fictional idealized version of our lives. The difference now is that we are less focused on the most significant moments from our personal history, but instead feel compelled to document and promote relatively insignificant scenes of our daily lives, such as our daily adventures in shopping, meals, and posing in front of any ephemeral landmark that crosses our path. The photographs from this series are all taken from my daily life, and are no less fictional and deliberate than the average family photo, and equally as banal as the average instagram post. However, my intent has been to capture scenes and situations from my daily life that provoke existential dilemmas and force me to question my place within the social structure and the environment at large. Most of these photos are taken not as calculated attempts to create a body of work, and not as deliberately staged scenes, but are simply captured extemporaneously as they present themselves, usually within the context of relaxing or performing the mundane tasks of being a homeowner and father living the American Dream. Although these scenes are generally peaceful, I carefully choose my compositions to reveal the underlying sense of foreboding and angst that I often feel during my own futile attempt at the pursuit of happiness Dave Hebb’s work has been exhibited regionally, nationally and internationally in various venues across Europe, most recently in a three-person show at Art Laboratory Berlin, (Berlin, Germany, 2012) and two consecutive solo shows at COOP gallery (Nashville, TN, 2010-11). Recent notable accolades include a Fulbright Fellowship to Iceland to create a sculptural installation (1997-8) and being selected to participate in the New York Foundation for the Arts’ MARK program (2010). To view more of Dave’s work please visit his website.
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