Item description for Mitch Epstein: Family Business by Mitch Epstein...
Mitch Epstein was 48 and living in New York when his mother called him about the fire. On a windy August night in 1999, two 12-year-old boys had broken into a boarded-up apartment building owned by Epstein's father in Holyoke, Massachusetts, and, just for the hell of it, set it ablaze. The fire had spread, engulfing a 19th-century Catholic church, then a city block. The $15 million lawsuit brought by the church against the senior Mr. Epstein threatened to unravel his life. Faced with the family crisis, Mitch went home to help, possessed by the question of how his father, once owner of the largest furniture and appliance store in western New England and former Chamber of Commerce Businessman of the Year in 1970, ended up a character out of an Arthur Miller tragedy. What resulted is Family Business, an epic work about the demise of a Jewish immigrant dynasty. It traces the parallel fall of a New England town from industrial giant to drug-dealing capital. Epstein has combined formally rigorous, large-scale photographs with fluid video clips to re-create his father's universe. The book's four chapters--"store," "property," "town," "home"--include photographs, storyboards, video stills, archival materials and text, resulting in a mixed-media novel that asks how the American Dream failed his father and his generation of men.
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Mitch Epstein's work has been exhibited widely and included in numerous photography collections throughout the world. He has worked as a cinematographer and production designer for films, among them Saalam Bombay and Mississippi Masala. Previous books include In Pursuit of India and Fire, Water, and Wind. He lives in New York City.
Reviews - What do customers think about Mitch Epstein: Family Business?
Trade off Aug 12, 2007
I found Mitch Epstein's book a fascinating attempt to extend a book of his photos into a mixed-media experience. The material was readily available: the failure of the family furniture store and property rental business in declining Holyoke (just north of Springfield, Massachusetts) and closer to home the tensions between the Epstein family and others.
The potential for a great photobook almost comes off. Certainly there are some stunning photos, especially portraits of the Epstein family and professional folk in Holyoke and the location shots of the town show what a grim place it has turned into. Epstein's photos have a richness of color and detail that is impressive.
Where the book fails for me is the mediocre attempt at mixing photos, graphics and text into a seamless whole. The main text is on fifteen pages in the front of the book and it looks very dull, no photos or graphics to backup the words. A few other equally dull looking text pages occur throughout the book. The few archive graphic images (a furniture flyer for the store, a letter, a scribbled note from a sales conference, an expenses sheet) are presented flat on the page rather than used in any creative way. Where the photos and text work well are a few pages of video images and captions showing Epstein's dad dealing with evicted tenants on a winter's night.
The credits say that Mitch Epstein did the design and layout, I think he is he is a much better photographer than publication designer. Family Business is beautifully printed (175dpi) and it's a shame that these great photos lack the extra graphic material and presentation that would have made an intriguing and fresh statement about commerce and family relationships in America today.
***FOR A LOOK INSIDE click 'customer images' under the cover.
a bit of a winge Jul 9, 2007
A somewhat sad narrative on the demise of the business and related interests, but too quickly gets into a bit of a "woe is us" mood -- an almost predictable tale of a dysfunctional family relationship, poor business instincts and a decaying urban environment. When you see the merchandise, you'll wish the fire started there. Great photography, though.
Outstanding. Apr 15, 2004
Family Business by Mitch Epstein is a stunning personal and historical document. Seminal work- not to be missed.
The End of a city and end of a Family Business Mar 6, 2004
A fascinating study of a family trying to cope with changing times. The family in the 3 generation family furniture business was unable to keep up to date with business practices. Family conflicts also contributed to the decline. At the same time the city of Holyoke was also unable to cope with the changing diverse cultures in the city. The city was dying along with the family business. No-one seemed to be in a creative leadership position to save either. Beautiful photos by a loving son. Memorable story.