During this time of deep national divide, William Eggleston’s collection of over 40 photographs — some never before exhibited — embodies the artist’s view of his democratic vision of the camera and what it is capable of creating. The exhibit at the David Zwirner Gallery, titled “The Democratic Forest,” is a monumental project that offers dramatic juxtapositions and a unique analysis of superficiality in America. It presents an analysis that transcends mere aesthetic appeal by forcing viewers to confront their own personal fabricated realities.
“The Democratic Forest” celebrates the often-overlooked presence of the rural, the simple and the timeless. Eggleston’s photographs are a peaceful way to take pride in the hidden corners of the United States — his testament to a way of life unacknowledged by many. However, this clear praise of the American dream within the collection is accompanied by an underlying yet sharp criticism. On the surface, the colors and the scenery can seem comforting, but if one takes a closer look, the old-fashioned lifestyle is shivering on the brink of the modern, global world. It is the families with the unnaturally blue pools and the owners of the Coca-Cola-sponsored diners that must decide which way they wish their future — as well as the future of their country — to go.