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Making Redlands: A Novel in Words and Pictures

Philip Brookman, consulting curator, department of photographs, National Gallery of Art, and former senior curator of photography and media arts, Corcoran Gallery of Art. In this presentation recorded on June 7, 2015, at the National Gallery of Art, Philip Brookman introduces his cinematic novel Redlands, which weaves together an intimate sequence of words and pictures set in Mexico, California, and New York City during the unsettled decades of the sixties, seventies, and eighties. Brookman mixes a fictional journey with a collage of images from his own photographic diaries and sketchbooks to invent the first-person character of Kip, a young photographer who wanders America—back and forth between the farmworkers and poets of California and New York—trying to find a sense of purpose in the death of his mother, whom he barely knew. When Kip learns that he cannot trust the eyewitness accounts of his sister Addie, he picks up a camera to help verify his own experiences. By juxtaposing the oppositional strategies of fiction and documentary practice to conjure a fabricated narrative, Redlands questions the veracity of logical observation and embraces the poetry of the real world.