Eli Durst scrutinises aspirational American fantasies of happiness, self-improvement and individuality in a provocative critique of social rituals, groups and norms.
The Four Pillars grew out of a relationship with a faith-based self-help group in Newtown, Connecticut, that Durst photographed over several years. Despite their ostensibly comfortable lives, these affluent suburbanites felt unfulfilled and directionless. They met weekly in church basements to discuss spiritual and secular strategies to find meaning and purpose, and to deconstruct the markers of success, progress and identity within middle-class American society.
Durst's staged, inventive images build organically on this self-critical base structure by inventing scenarios that interrogate the relationship between the individual and the group, the norms we aspire to, and the social gravity that holds these two in alignment. Durst takes the details of these scenarios – mundane family portraits, team bonding exercises, pregnancy groups, school gyms, amateur theatre, county fairs – and amplifies their strangeness, through a lens that is at once factual, fictional, banal and absurd.
144 pages, 23.5 x 27 cm, hardcover, Loose Joints (Marseille).