Durst scrutinises aspirational American fantasies of happiness, self-improvement and individuality in a provocative critique of social rituals, groups and norms.
The Four Pillars grew out of a relationship with a faith-based self-help group that Durst photographed over several years. Despite their ostensibly comfortable lives, these affluent suburbanites felt unfulfilled and directionless. They met weekly in church basements to discuss spiritual and secular strategies to find meaning and purpose, and to deconstruct the markers of success, progress and identity within middle-class American society.
Durst's staged, inventive images build organically on this self-critical base structure by inventing scenarios that interrogate the relationship between the individual and the group, the norms we aspire to, and the social gravity that holds these two in alignment. Durst takes the details of these scenarios – mundane family portraits, team bonding exercises, pregnancy groups, school gyms, amateur theatre, county fairs – and amplifies their strangeness, through a lens that is at once factual, fictional, banal and absurd.
Eli Durst (b. 1989) is an American artist whose work explores the social forces and group dynamics that shape the suburban American experience. Durst’s photographs have been exhibited internationally and have been featured in Aperture, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Vogue, and The Atlantic among others. His first monograph, The Community (Morel, 2020), received Special Mention for the Author’s Book Award at Les Rencontres d’Arles in 2020.
- 144pp, 235 × 270 mm,
- 70 tritone plates
- Flexi-bound faux-leather hardcover with a prose piece by Rick Moody
- ISBN 978-1-912719-39-7