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Words & Pictures: Mike Osborne’s Federal Triangle

Houston Center for Photography is pleased to present an online lecture by Austin-based photographer, Mike Osborne, discussing his recent body of work, Federal Triangle. Titled after a government complex wedged between the Capitol and the White House, Osborne’s work depicts Washington DC as a kind of bureaucratic Bermuda Triangle—an impenetrable place of mystery, danger, and disorientation.

The project grew out of the day-to-day experience of living in DC over a period of several years. Banal but intriguing, and sometimes darkly comical, these glimpses of power led to a cascade of questions. If a person were particularly prone to paranoid projections, what kinds of encounters might activate his darker conspiratorial fears and fantasies? If one felt especially dispossessed, what scenes and situations would evoke the paradoxical feeling of being close to yet far removed from the levers of power?

Federal Triangle engages these kinds of questions in pictorial terms. Everyday scenes are tinged with the possibility of violence and conspiracy. Withholding more than they reveal, the pictures invite projections that speak to the fear, doubt, dysfunction, and absurdity of the current moment in American political life.

This lecture is part of Houston Center for Photography’s ongoing series, Words & Pictures, a lecture and conversation series between photographers, writers, and thinkers of the medium.

Mike Osborne is a photographer whose work touches on a range of themes including architecture, landscape, history, and technology, ultimately taking the form of books and exhibitions. His photographs are included in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the University of Virginia. Federal Triangle, a project set in Washington, DC, will be published by Gnomic Book in 2019. His work has also appeared in publications such as the New YorkerTimeThe New York Times, and The New Republic.