Justin Kimball: Where We Find Ourselves

BY Edie Bresler, July 21, 2014

Justin Kimball, Orange, MA, 1996. Courtesy Carroll and Sons.

From intimate close-up views to wide verdant vistas, the 13 large photographs by Justin Kimball on view at Carroll and Sons through August 23 present a variety of respites from the summer heat. Culled from Kimball’s larger project, Where We Find Ourselves (1996-2004), a broader survey of Americans taking their leisure, this exhibition concentrates on swimmers and the arcadian pleasures of swimming holes.

Kimball travels across the country photographing in secluded places beyond civilization and man-made chlorinated pools. His subjects are caught in a range of ecstatic poses, their eyes tightly shut in trance-like moments or their bodies floating in shimmering pools of light. Sometimes a hint of danger is suggested: In one photograph, a young man in Orange, MA (1996), contemplates a leap from a paved overpass into the dark blue waters below. Kimball places him between the road and the wilderness, implying his jump is like an escape from one world to another. In Cumberland, Rhode Island (1997), we gaze through a vast leafy wooded area that looks out across a pond, where a group of tiny figures cluster around a board jutting out over the still water, their bodies mirrored below. The scene is charged with the anticipation of one boy standing at the end of the board, looking down into the water and preparing to meet his double. 

Justin Kimball, Old Orchard Beach, Maine, 2003. Courtesy Carroll and Sons

Kimball chooses moments poised between risk and release to celebrate the larger transformations happening at these swimming holes. With trust and concentration, a father and daughter navigate the unpredictable surf beneath an array of barnacle-encrusted dock pilings in Old Orchard Beach, Maine (2003). They bravely make their way through, hand-in-hand, one step at a time.