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Since 2008, Oli Kellett has dedicated himself to exploring the urban setting and our relationship with the crossroad. For his series Cross Road Blues, he travelled through America to transform the everyday into spectacular beauty. The individuals and small clusters of people waiting in Kellett’s photographs seem to be part of a film set, strangely isolated in typically bustling urban centres and surrounded with cinematographic lighting. Like a film, each person tells a unique story about their American experience. Taken as a whole, the series shows commonalities that all humans share: waiting, thinking, deciding which way to go.
Oli’s major body of work, Cross Road Blues, borrows its title from the legendary song by Delta Blues musician Robert Johnson. According to legend, Robert Johnson met the devil at a crossroads outside of Memphis and sold his soul in exchange for his musical talents. He was forever plagued despite his success. The mythology surrounding Johnson’s song can be interpreted as a cautionary tale of the price paid for the American Dream, and Kellett’s allusion to it leaves the viewer wondering if the figures in his photographs chose their souls or their dreams at their crossroads.
Alaskan Way, Seattle, 2017
Archival Pigment Print Frame size: 41 x 51 inches (edition of 8) Frame size: 61 x 76 inches (edition of 6)
Oli Kellett , Illinois St, Chicago (2016)
Archival Pigment Print. Art size: 40 x 50 inches - Frame size: 41 x 51 inches
Oli Kellett - HackelBury Fine Art Install
"Kellett travels the streets of US cities, assessing light and vantage points before settling on a spot, unpacking his large and unwieldy camera, and setting up a makeshift studio. After that, he simply watches and waits."