David Dodge


gandy gallery


Exhibition: February 17 - April 02, 2000


The images of the Last Wash are invocations of absence and loss from the American night. Photographed without flash from the street, the images embody a subtle conflation of exterior and interior of the ubiquitous laundromat, a locale that retains a curious presence/absence in most American cities. Though they are to be found in most densely populated neighborhoods, they are spaces which generally embody no aesthetic or decorative energy apart from their own pure functionality. Quietly camouflaged between stores, restaurants and cafes, they are spaces that subtly blend the public and the private. They are extensions - street-side satellites - of the apartments and flats of the urban dweller who arrives on a weekly or daily basis to work and wait.

Here, those who are absent are present; their traces left etched on the seats, covering the handles and lids of the machines, apparent in the positions of the carts left sprawling haphazardly after the last wash. These spaces recall shots of film sets, of action waiting to happen or, having already occurred, cordoned off for inspection. They are landscapes of the expectant, cyclically static and pregnant with repetitive motion. Here, through the large plate glass windows, a sublimely banal yet crucial slice of life is on view–the modern paradigms of waiting, repetitive labor and the tending of the machinery. Subtly, the images begin to morph and the laundry machines and dryers become strange incubators in a vacant laboratory or vast banks of supercomputers humming through the black of night.
An important inspiration for this series is the work of Eugene Atget whose images of the empty streets and shop windows of Paris also speak to the idea of absence and the haunting immateriality of our material vestiges. For though these rooms of machines and tables seem grounded in a kind of ineluctable permanence, the very spaciousness of the night insures the coming of the last wash.