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This Photographer Captures the Oddities of Small Town Life

This portfolio appears in VICE Magazine’s 2019 Photo Issue. With this issue we wanted to celebrate the absurd, the lighthearted, and the humorous. It’s important to take a break from the real world. As much as we need to be informed, engaged, and aware, we also need to laugh. We wanted to champion the people making art with a sense of humor. In today’s climate, there’s something nicely subversive about that. You can read more about our theme in the letter from our editor.

Check out an interactive version of the issue here, and why not subscribe to the magazine while you’re at it?

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Australian photographer Chase Middleton received her MFA from Yale in 2019 and her BFA from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 2012. Her work has been exhibited across the globe, including at Red Hook Labs in New York, Base in Milan, and the National Portrait Gallery in Australia. She currently lives and works in New York City.

The staging of Middleton’s images—the way she brings out the oddities of small town living—is what first drew us to her work. Each photo, with its super rich color palette and overload of carpet, feels like it was plucked out of an obscure 80s film. The photos featured in this year’s photo issue are part of a body of work depicting a range of subjects, from ritualistic gatherings to encounters with strangers.

Middleton told us she uses “humor as a vehicle to enter into an unsettling world where the viewer is uncertain whether or not they are viewing a glimpse of an imagined afterlife, alternate reality, or if it is the simple recording of everyday banality. My work questions what it means to see something you’re not supposed to see and what happens when that becomes your obsession.”

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