As a New Yorker, much of my conception of California is filtered through films and TV. At least recently with the popularity of HBO’s Little Big Lies and the continued guilty pleasure of the Real Housewives franchise, California looks like it’s made up of big houses, bigger drama and staggering affluence. But, in addition to the extreme privilege in Orange County, Beverly Hills and Monterey, the state, according to Census research, also has the highest poverty rate in the nation.
Curator Drew Sawyer takes aim at this divide through deceptively simple means in his group photography exhibition Golden State at Marianne Boesky Gallery. Sawyer juxtaposes both staged and documentary style representations of enormous wealth with lack to showcase both individual and communal aspirations. Now, this is a recipe for a pretty standard show, but what makes Sawyer’s approach stand out is how his juxtapositions give us greater insight into a less pictured part of California–not just lower income neighborhoods, but the social and governmental structures that support them.