Trailers Collected by Nan Brown

Issue 23

I conceive these trailer photographs as abstractions first, without overt lessons. Drawn to the flat plane, I confront it with my flat medium of film and print. I make my silver gelatin prints in response to the metal of the trailers and use traditional print beauty to override notions of worthy subject matter and proper composition. The formatting de-sentimentalizes the whole subject of trailers, which tends to carry the cultural baggage of travel nostalgia or a trailer-trash constituency.

I do relish the look of trailers and while I could photograph them as lovely, ironical elements in sublime landscapes, I have used a different tack urged by interest in the highly formal qualities of surfaces rendered in black and white, à la Siskind, and the boxy trailers’ potential for tweaking formalism itself. As I have become quite attached to each trailer image, the series has materialized as a group of portraits of a kind. Since they are trailers instead of people, the stories in their faces are satisfyingly unresolved.

I call these portraits because of the deeply affecting sense of human frailty and foible I feel from the collection, with our array of circumstances evident in these homes and yards. Trailers sort of wear themselves on their sleeves in comparison with other residences. Generally speaking, trailers have no setback from neighbors and passersby, nor are they isolated within compounds. Living space extends outside their compact walls and particular license is taken with the exteriors, where residents often put a unique stamp on something mass-produced and make ample creative use of their small canvas. In these ways the trailers lend themselves to a metaphorical exploration of the universal experiences of success, failure, and the daily struggle.

Nan Brown is a Quincy, California based artist.
To view more of Nan's work, please visit her website.

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