Text by Kyle Kusz.
170 x 210 mm
This project surveys the American straight white male’s endless pursuit to sustain power and the institutions that enforce their supremacy. The pictures are a compilation of Bush’s own alongside an archive of gold prospectors and propaganda photographers that span from 1920 to the early 1970s. Bridging a century of photographs, this body of work juxtaposes systems that conceal their influence and preserve a violent regime alongside the burden of that heritage.
For the past ten years, Shawn has focused on Western systems of authority through the lens of masculinity. His bodily identity has allowed him to connect with male communities across the United States through traditionally masculine venues, though often starting in online forums where many males feel free to express their inner thoughts. In this space, it became clear how petrified many straight white men are of losing their socio-economic position to those who are not also straight white men, often employing a defend-at-all-cost attitude with a plan of attack.
After the first eight years making images while living in progressive city metros, Bush moved to Wyoming, USA, under the Trump presidency. Being immersed into the time capsule of the past that is Wyoming forced the artist to think about the present as an echo of the past and changed how he create, which is when he began to solely photograph using a large format camera, black and white film, and working in still life. Many of these photographs also use a bare bulb flash to connect the language used in the image archive to the present, creating a narrative that dissects a history rooted in colonialism and unable to confront its past on a collective level.
About the Artist
Lens-based artist Shawn Bush grew up in Detroit, MI, a city whose civic history and geographic location have profoundly influenced the way he thinks about space within the American sociopolitical landscape. As a result, his work is responsive to over-built systems, failing icons, and collapsing mythologies. Bush earned an MFA from Rhode Island School of Design and a BA from Columbia College Chicago. He is a 2021 Wyoming Arts Council Fellow, a recipient of the 2017 Lenscratch Student Prize, and the 2016 T.C Colley Grant for excellence in lens-based media. Bush is an Associate Professor of Photography at Casper College and founder of Dais Books.
About the Publisher
Void is an independent publishing house dedicated to photography books and education. The project is driven by its founders Myrto Steirou and João Linneu. You might bump into Myrto, Void’s editor, at a book fair or festival in a far flung part of the globe, but you’ll usually find her in Greece, at their store in Athens. João, Void’s designer, is based in Reykjavík… it’s entirely possible that you may not meet him (in person at least). Void works with both established and up-and-coming artists, proudly fostering photographers’ debut books.
Void has collaborated with many international art institutions since we started, back in October 2016. In 2021 Void became one of Futures Photography’s members. Void is devoted to and passionate about the projects they undertake. In their books, you will find powerful stories and innovative design, melded together with fine and experimental material.