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Opening Reception, The End of the Trail by Fernando Souto at Smack Mellon / Dumbo Arts Center: Art Under the Bridge Festival 2009 / 2009-09-26 / SML

I thought that it would be odd to photograph the photographs of someone else's work so I did a video of the opening reception instead.


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Two Solo Exhibitions

Exhibition dates: September 26 - November 8, 2009

Artists’ reception: Saturday, September 26, 5-8pm


Smack Mellon is pleased to present Ellen Driscoll’s installation FASTFORWARDFOSSIL: Part 2 and Fernando Souto’s photographic series The End of the Trail. The two concurrent solo exhibitions compress layers of time to explore industries and lifestyles that go beyond geographic borders. Composed of thousands of discarded plastic bottles collected by Ellen Driscoll, FASTFORWARDFOSSIL: Part 2 takes a critical look at the environmental and human damage inflicted by the oil and water industries in the last two centuries on regions as diverse as Nigeria and the United States. During extended trips to cattle ranches in the American West, Australia, and Uruguay, Fernando Souto photographed the fading culture of ranchers, creating black-and-white environmental portraits in the tradition of iconic photographers such as Walker Evans and Robert Frank. Both Driscoll and Souto are intimately tied to their craft—painstakingly cutting up salvaged bottles and printing large-scale silver gelatin photographs—asserting a tactile personal connection in their work.


Fernando Souto

The End of the Trail


“My parents emigrated from Uruguay to Australia when I was eighteen months old. With my extended family still in Uruguay, I never had the opportunity to really know my relatives, particularly my grandmother, who always seemed to be really old to me. The brief, scrambled, international phone calls throughout my childhood did little for me to understand who I was and where I had come from.


In 2002, my grandmother turned one hundred years old and I got a brief opportunity to spend some time with her. Looking at family photographs and listening to the stories of her childhood inspired me to start this photographic project titled, The End of the Trail. During my stay in Uruguay, I set out to photograph the essence of her stories and to gain a greater understanding of my heritage. My thoughts of ranch life were mostly filled with romantic ideals of freedom and independence. I had no concept of the harsh environment that the ranchers lived and worked in, and how the intense solitude defines them. At that moment, I decided to immerse myself in their day-to-day lives, pulling from these experiences to create a unique perspective of their fading culture.


From my initial trip to Uruguay in 2002, my interest in this project evolved, and I decided to expand into other countries where ranching had a significant presence in the culture and traditional working techniques still existed. Through extensive research I decided upon seven countries that had adapted the original working techniques of the Spanish Conquistadors and established a ranching heritage that spanned centuries. Those countries include Spain, Mexico, the United States, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Australia.


To date, I have covered cattle ranches in central Australia, Uruguay, Montana, Nevada and Wyoming. My plan is to complete this photographic series, which would include south Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Mexico and two additional regions in the United States. I had never intended for this documentary to be a weightless visual record, but an enduring photographic series that is told on the faces of the people that live and work in this unique global culture.”


Fernando Souto currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Born in Montevideo, Uruguay in1972, Souto immigrated with his family to Sydney, Australia in 1974. Before studying photography at The Fashion Institute of Technology in 1994, he apprenticed with a Sydney-based photographer specializing in black & white printing. Originally planning on becoming a commercial photographer, he pursued assisting work with location-based portrait photographers throughout the late nineties. In 2002 Souto began his long-term project titled The End of the Trail, a humanistic story of the contemporary cowboy that spans seven countries. This series is shot on film and printed using traditional black and white gelatin papers. In 2008 Souto was chosen to attend the Review Santa Fe and exhibited his work at the Michael Mazzeo Gallery (NYC). Recently Souto was granted an emerging artists award from Photo District News for his work on The End of the Trail.


Smack Mellon

92 Plymouth Street @ Washington

Brooklyn, NY 11201


Gallery hours are Wednesday-Sunday, 12-6pm.


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Taken on October 2, 2009