Ron Jude’s book Lago presents a holistic reiteration of what Sally Eauclaire defined in the early 1980’s with her highly influential The New Color Photography publication, experienced here within an easy conflation of history as well as more recent photographic genealogy.
The photographs themselves – addressing abandonment and a general languidity – do not describe a place as much as they do various sub genres of recent photographic practice. This is achieved via highly aesthetic single images, referencing endless historical touchstones from the work of William Eggleston and William Christenberry to Paul Graham and Richard Misrach.
Unfortunately, as a body of work Lago struggles to stand on its own two feet, offering the usual enigmas and cadence. Some photographs even appear ready to install as the perfect backdrop generic modern living, dinner party art with just enough ‘real life’ signifiers to prevent a slip into pastoral pictorialism – the wild looking dogs, the boots, the object trouvé, the bleached out curtains, the sun shining into the lens obscuring our view – all sun-dried under desert light so intense that you almost squint when you turn the page.
That there are no words to read is admirable (but this might simultaneously make us wary). However, it’s clear why Ron Jude made the work, why he was interested in this and that, what influenced him topographically even. We understand why it’s a book and there are a great many admirable photographs as wonderfully executed observations. My breath is taken away by the upright tyre and berried foliage, for example, but, when it comes down to it, other than fine photographic craft, there’s little real sustenance; just a neat tying up of business, no aftertaste, no afterglow; nothing radical, nothing strange. ♦
All images courtesy of MACK. © Ron Jude