• The American Landscape: Color  auction at Christies

    Sale 2205

    The American Landscape: Color Photographs from the Collection of Bruce and Nancy Berman

    7 October 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 169


    Peterson's Store, Manfred, North Dakota, 2000

    Price Realised  


    Peterson's Store, Manfred, North Dakota, 2000
    chromogenic print
    signed in ink on a gallery label affixed (on the reverse of the plexiglas flush-mount); number 2 from an edition of 10
    32½ x 42¾in. (82.6 x 108.6cm.)

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    Michèle Gerber Klein interviewed Polidori for BOMB Magazine Spring 2007. In the interview Michele explains she invited the artist to photograph a deserted North Dakota town which had once belonged to her grandfather.
    "I wondered what his lens would uncover in that supernatural barrenness. To say that Robert is passionately focused is an understatement. He was so intense in the search for images that the final night, while we were having dinner in the same motel restaurant, a man came over to him and said, 'I know who you are. You're the guy who was taking pictures in my backyard this afternoon. I'm the mayor of this town.' I don't think Robert had even realized we were trespassing."

    Polidori frequently photographs interiors because that is where the layers of information lie for him, though North Dakota was an exception. Polidori discusses:

    "Yes, the interiors were pretty much empty. There it's been abandoned, as if living was simply too harsh. They took whatever belongings they had and just moved away. The layering of time is in the exteriors. In North Dakota, there's so much space around everything. Maybe that frightened me. It really is rural.

    All of it was totally abandoned. It was left there 20 years before I shot it and nothing's been moved. In an urban environment, like the Lower East Side, kids and foragers will at least come and break things. In that North Dakota settlement, there's nothing. It's only time. In a way, it's a look far back in America's past. I don't think it profited from the post-WWII boom. It got stuck after 1929. The abandoned stores have people's private names, like Peterson's Store. You're hard put to find that anywhere in Chicago or New York, where, by the '50s or '60s, all the mom-and-pop stores were being bought or put out of business by Walgreens and the first Western Autos, J.C. Pennys, and Sears. Chain stores didn't even bother to go to most of the places in North Dakota. So you're looking that far back in time, whereas in Havana, you're looking back to 1959."