MEADOWLARK | Ian Bates
MEADOWLARK | Ian Bates
ARTIST RECEPTION: Saturday, August 20, 6:00–9:00 PM | no appointment needed
EXHIBITION: August 20 – September 18 | by appointment
These Days is pleased to present MEADOWLARK, a solo exhibition by photographer Ian Bates.
To produce the photographs that make up this exhibition Ian Bates spent years driving the vast, sparsely-populated spaces of the American West, often sleeping in his car. This is a project borne of both passion and patience, and though Bates was initially inspired by the Western Meadowlark—state bird of North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, Kansas, and Nebraska—the bird ultimately proved elusive, and appears here only once, as a crude facsimile painted on a weathered scrap of plywood.
It turns out there’s plenty of space out there for even birds to disappear. Bates’ photographs are full of things disappearing in plain sight; like all photos, they’re an imposition, but given the glorious anonymity of sprawling tracts of western and plains states geography, they’re also about respectful distance, and the space(s) between people, places, and things. These are places famous for keeping their secrets, and for maintaining a (long) arm’s reach from the outside world. A person drifting in such landscapes can never be entirely sure where they are, other than simultaneously on the outskirts of everything and in the thick of a perpetual and sublime (and very quiet) mystery. Every photographer is essentially exploring outer space, but in Meadowlark, Bates is in deep space and these are photos that are as reticent as their subjects. This world doesn’t nurture silence, but it’s still out there, a stealth force, a glacier, and in the places it lives it can hear things coming from a long way away.
This exhibition coincides with the release of Bates' first monograph of the same name published by Deadbeat Club Press, 2022. Deadbeat will be hosting a pop-up in the shop throughout the exhibition featuring their other titles, merch, and their very own locally roasted coffee.
"There’s nothing left but cow patties and dry hay. A board nailed to a tree used to tell you the way, but the dust from the endless dirt roads had swirled up and erased the directions away. The land waves back and forth as the wind blows through the prairie, flowing seamlessly into the sea. The yellow and black bird perch on gnarled fence posts away from the dangers lurking in the shadows of the overgrown grass. The old farmers have left, into the cities or into the ground. The bird hit by the pickup barreling across the highway, returns to earth. Everything left behind now belongs to the soil.
A deafening silence consumes these places, nowhere to be watched and everywhere to hide. I pulled into an enormous farm and started chatting with the owner's son. He saw movement in the distance and ran into the house, returning with an AR-15. Within seconds two foxes were dead. I felt the shift in the earth when humans completely consume a place. The flapping of wings dissipates into the breeze, blowing past your ears. Where does all that wind go?" - Ian Bates
Ian Bates was born (1992) and raised in New Jersey but moved to the Western United States shortly after earning his Bachelor of Science in Visual Communication from Ohio University. His work comes from his curiosity with how people interact with the landscapes they live in, to understand his surroundings and learn the intimate details of a place. He has shown work at The College of William and Mary (Virginia) and Quaid Gallery (Florida). He was chosen as one of PDN’s 30 Emerging Photographers to Watch in 2017. His work has been published in The New Yorker, National Geographic, The New York Times, Smithsonian, Rolling Stone and others. He currently resides in Marine County with his wife and five month old daughter.