Bobby Neel Adams

(1953) American


Bobby Neel Adams was born in Black Mountain, North Carolina, and received a BFA from Goddard College in Vermont in 1976. His photographs have appeared in several books published by Re/Search, including The Industrial Culture Handbook (1996) and Modern Primitives (1989); in photo-illustrated fiction by Charles Willeford and Octave Mirbeau; and in such periodicals as LIFE, Artforum, Fortune, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Wired. Adams's best-known pictures are those made for the series Beauties and Beasts, Age Maps, and Couples, in each of which he combined two individual portraits in the darkroom to create a single image. Adams's pictures have been shown publicly since 1988 at a number of venues including the Greenville North Carolina County Art Museum, at ICP, and elsewhere. His recent portraits of landmine victims in Cambodia and Mozambique were published in book form as Broken Wings (1997), and selections from this series have been shown in traditional exhibitions and on the Internet. Adams received a Grand Street Foundation Grant in 1998, the Aaron Siskind Award in 1997 and a Dorothea Lange/Paul Taylor Award in 1993.
Adams's composite photographs study similarities and differences among individuals' physical appearances from generation to generation, during the process of aging, and between genders. His portraits of landmine victims to challenge preconceptions about the continuity and integrity of the body by calling attention to bodies that have been physically, rather than photographically, altered. Using both manipulated and straightforward photographic methods, Adams depicts the body as a malleable entity subject to disturbingly unmanageable elements.
Lisa Hostetler

Handy et al. Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection, New York: Bulfinch Press in association with the International Center of Photography, 1999, p. 206.
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