Shawn Records
From the Bottom of a Well

Shawn Records’ beautifully complex photographs are woven together here in From the Bottom of a Well, a poetic and tragically humorous account of a Chinese government-sponsored trip for a select group of American fine-art photographers. For two weeks, they traveled by bus with a government escort to pre-determined locations, including wetlands, oil fields, coal museums, and re-enactments of Mongolian village life. Wrapped up in a web of politics, propaganda, environmental whitewashing, and good-old romanticism, this work plucks at the tension between the photographer’s passive role as recorder of sanitized “facts,” and the impulse to subvert that role. Taking his title from the Chinese saying, zuijing guantian (like looking at the sky from the bottom of a well), Records recognizes his own limited capacity to know his subjects in a meaningful way. Instead, he accepts the veneer of his own understanding while demonstrating a keen ability to scrape wit, beauty, and empathy from the surface of things.

Published by A-Jump Books
ISBN: 978-0-9777655-7-7
8 x 7.25 inches, 64 pp, full-colour offset, perfect-bound, 2011
Edition of 500
$20 USD

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Shawn Records holds a BA from Boise State University and an MFA from Syracuse University. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Photography, LightWork, and the Portland Art Museum and has been shown widely, including solo exhibitions at Blue Sky Gallery and Castillo/Corralles and group exhibitions at MoCP, PAM, Jen Bekman, the Cooley Gallery, and Photo Center Northwest among others. His artwork has been published widely, including Vice magazine’s annual photo issue, Contact Sheet, Remain in Light, Camerawork, Pause to Begin, DoubleTake, and Adbusters, and his editorial clients have included Dwell, W, Jalous, Elle, Modern Painters, Art & Auction, Another Man, and The Wire. From the Bottom of a Well, a “poetic and tragically humorous account” of a 2010 Chinese government-sponsored trip was recently published by A-Jump books. Based in Portland, Oregon, Records also teaches photography and serves as President of the Board of Directors of Photolucida, a non-profit organization committed to assisting emerging and mid-career photographers.

A-Jump Books is a small publishing house dedicated to producing photo-based books that challenge convention through understatement and artistic rigor. Using the “artist’s book” concept as a model, we publish projects that are conceived of and designed as self-contained works.

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