Bob DeBris’ photographs capture the oddball, cult, and kitsch within the outer reaches of American culture, revealing some of the most exotic and outlandish subjects in an astonishingly normal yet overtly surreal light.
The catalog features an introduction from exhibition curator, Ginny Brush, who explains how such an exhibition looking back on the prolific, eclectic, and even eccentric work of Bob DeBris came to be. Essays by Nancy Doll and Caroline Allen detail the history and nontraditional start of DeBris’ career as he bicycled across parts of Canada and the United States, trekking to England (bike in tow), to at last have a chance to display his works from the five month road trip / photo op. His works that followed continued to use the road trip as a way to introduce DeBris to unusual subjects and subcultures, yet they possess an air of seriousness and genuine interest that say a great deal about the unique man behind the camera himself.
As a road photographer, DeBris visits and returns to some of the most unique gatherings of individuals, from annual events in Roswell, New Mexico, to those in Graceland in Tennessee, portraying a sense of unpretentious hilarity and genuine authenticity that would otherwise go *unacknowledged / unnoticed / undepicted about* from such wild and strange characters. DeBris also spent a lot of time in the Southern California region, in and near Santa Barbara, capturing the distinct Southern California subculture of Lucha Libre, or Mexican wrestling, with its unmistakable masks and costumes.
The encompassing array of photographs compiled in the catalog reveal the variety of strange and unusual subcultures DeBris captured during his many trips. Most of the works portray a subject, seemingly normal while a participant in a distinctly niche culture. The photographs are absurd, yet they capture the humanity of the individual with an undeniable realness that seems to expose their story. The authentic portrayal is something DeBris seems uniquely able to capture, as he does so with an air of reverence and integration that has not otherwise been accomplished for these offbeat subcultures.
Produced in conjunction with the exhibition at SBCAF of the same title, on display March 2 - April 20, 2003.
SOFTCOVER, 64 pages, 48 black & white and color photographs , L x H 10” x 8.5”
PUBLICATION DATE - 2002