— Delphine Bedel

Photography: From The Sidelines – A Journey on Route 66

16 May – 30 august 2009
Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal, Leiden

Crossing America during the first 100 days of Obama’s presidency.
A photographic essay.

Although the Route 66 is known to be a scenic road and a celebrated myth, Route 66 is most of all about the people who live and work along it, and who keep it’s unique spirit alive. Created in 1927, the route was for over half a century the main access from East to West, crossing 8 states. Decommissioned in 1984, Route 66 officially disappeared, to be replaced by new Interstate Highways. This created a great strain for the economy along the old road and its inhabitants. A renewed interest in the recent years for the Route’s rich patrimony and it’s legacy, central to the American history, is now contributing to a regaining popularity, transforming the Route itself into a tourist destination. Drawing a parallel with the emergence of Plymouth in the late 19th century as a tourist destination, as seen in Burbank’s photographs, Delphine Bedel initiated a new research project entitled ‘From The Sidelines’.

Crossing the country by car for a month together with the singer-songwriter Luke Nyman, during the first 100 days of Obama’s presidency, Bedel photographed the stunning scenery, the eclectic architecture and the people, and Nyman played in many places along the road. Together they also filmed and recorded stories from the ‘Children of the Mother Road’: a cowboy’s wife, motel workers, war veterans, artists, musicians and historians, all had stories to tell. From the Dust Bowl years to the Credit Crunch, from the New World to the Trail of Tears, (the forced exile of the Cherokee Nation), from the Grand Canyon to the ”Magnificent Mile’ of drive-thru chain stores, unexpected perspectives unfold along the journey across Obama’s America, and reflect upon a country in a disrupted present.

Bedel’s photographic essay an their road movie are presented in this exhibition. Luke will be performing at the opening and on the 4th of July, together with the Travlin’ Tunes Tour. This project was commissioned in the frame of the exhibition ‘Holland Mania’ at the Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden. A publication will be released on that occasion, with a text by Rachel Esner. A selection of 136 prints of the 19th century Burbank’s photographs will also be presented on that occasion. These images are part of the collection o the Library of Leiden.

The travelogue of Delphine Bedel and Luke Nyman on the Mother Road will be online soon at blog.fromthesidelines.org

In the frame of the exhibition ‘Holland Mania’
16 May – 30 august 2009
Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal, Leiden
Oude Singel 28-32