Through her experiences with the demolition derbies, Pearl has gained an appreciation for how her diagnosis has helped her artistic development. She moves slowly in the chaotic environment, pausing to experience her surroundings in a new way. Every photograph is carefully composed as she waits patiently for the right moment to come to her, rather than rushing around in pursuit of the action. The swing of a sledgehammer, the spinning tires in mud— the viewer can almost hear the crunch of each collision. Pearl manages to place us in the middle of the action, while her balanced compositions maintain a sense of order. Last Car Running looks at more than just twisted metal and muddy rallies. Pearl also shows quieter moments of friends and families tailgating during the event. While
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the images of the derby itself evoke a visceral response, it is the portraits that provide glimpses of the culture and spirit that sustains it. During her first summer photographing from the “pit,” Pearl discovered the complex relationships between the teams. Her images vacillate between the anticipation and adrenaline flowing through the competitors in the heat of the moment and the quiet dignity of the team members present on the sidelines and in the pit between heats. Families who have made the derby into a tradition make up teams that span generations. Each car, its productive life over, is adorned and cherished by its owner, culminating in a grand send-off in a blaze of glory. Friends competing against one another put aside their competitive spirit to help make repairs on each other’s cars and prepare for the next heat.
Tailgate 2012 Opposite
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