In The Vicinity is a departure from Ed Panar’s usual subject matter depicting deceivingly simple landscapes, animals, and found objects in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and towns just on the outlier of major metropolitan areas. This isn’t to say that Panar’s stylistic eye is vacant from the work; his photographs still carry the same degree of humor and an uncanny kind of surprise that is underrepresented in much of Contemporary Photography. In The Vicinity is a mythical body of work showcasing the world inside the Emerald Triangle, a plot of land nestled in the northern region of California (Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity County) that’s famous (or infamous) for being one of the largest cannabis producing regions in the US. Panar’s photographs are taken between 2007 and 2017 [the most progressive span of time for cannabis rights and legalization in our country] in a (rarely) well-done blend of color and black and white without a human in sight.
While we never “see” another person, in typical Panar fashion, we come across the remains of encounters or choices, and subsequent consequences of those actions in his work. Flipped cars with bullet holes, mirrors on trees, unlocked trucks, and peeking through curtains…Panar is omnipresent but can’t find a way out of The Emerald Triangle, so neither can we.
There’s a perfectly strange duality of forces present in the work in addition to Panar’s choice of composition that arrange themselves in the most inconspicuous manner. I’ve never been able to grasp what makes his work so slippery in Golden Palms or Walking Home, and it seems like In The Vicinity will slip out of my fingers too. While Panar can break his seemingly straightforward eye with subtly charged subject matter, I’m finding myself more drawn to the objects I recognize as readily available. Leave it to Panar to transcend the everyday to match biblical allegories in their weight and profundity.
The book is beautifully printed and sequenced (as expected by Panar and Woodside) with a little piece of paraphernalia in the back…I shall say no more. In The Vicinity is a body of work that surpasses the already iconic Animals That Saw Me and Golden Palms as a beautiful, tightly edited account of the mysterious universe that is named The Emerald Triangle.