Click HERE to see Aperture Foundation's selection of Thomas Birtwistle as a finalist for the prestigious Aperture Prize.
Though the origins of the county fair can be traced back to centuries past, Thomas Birtwistle portrays the subject with a decidedly 21st-century inflection. Largely absent of festive attendees, these images concentrate on the colorful visual vocabulary of the fair: garish stuffed animal prizes, concession stands, Osama Bin Laden cans lined up to be shot down by a barrage of BBs. But aside from entertainment and recreation these fairs serve another purpose—the display and celebration of agricultural wonders. The gaze of Birtwistle’s camera is cool and his compositions formal, making them well suited to render perfectly formed and vibrantly colored produce. Cherry tomatoes are tagged and displayed on antiseptic white trays, hinting at the disquieting perfection yielded by modified DNA. A giant white shelf displays the winners of this year’s contest: outsized apples, beets, and green beans are adorned with red and blue ribbons. A caged Buff Polish rooster at the Skowhegan State Fair in Maine is poised with confidence, a natural winner, even if unaware that it is likely headed to the chicken barbecue pictured in another photograph.
Rhode Island School of Design BFA with honors, Photography, 1991
Haverford College English
New Natural History, 2008 Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine
At the Fair, 2007 Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockport solo exhibition
Maine: The Way Life Is, 2006 Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine
Colors: Contemporary Photography, 2006 Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine
Underexposed, 2006 June Fitzpatrick Gallery, Portland, Maine
Still Life, 2006 Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockport
Photographs-- Recent Work, 2005 Zero Station, Portland, Maine two-person exhibition