Trying to Find the Ocean – Description

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Trying to Find the Ocean is photographer Michael Ast’s first book, printed in an edition of 300 copies. It features 54 offset-printed black and white plates, with an afterword essay by author and artist Mark Alice Durant. The book depicts a rampage-like journey through the city of Baltimore. Ast incorporates both an intense outward gaze on the urban environment and its inhabitants, and an inward gaze, employing images to function esoterically as emotive and cognitive intimations. The sequencing reads at once like a cyclically entrapped day-in the-life narrative, but also as a long visual poem. Durant states, “For Michael Ast, Baltimore is a specific place and a site for exploring the way in which photographs map the territory between the real and the imagined.” The Ocean that the photographic adventure seeks is figurative, emblematic of hope, escape and redemption. Between the book’s cover runs an almost feral energy to find such desire. Rather than resulting in wishful thinking, a sense of reverent longing pervades as Ast explores the city’s terrain and social landscape. “Ast invents the world as he goes along, finding small moments and minor revelations,” Durant concludes in his essay, “that add up to an episodic collection of subtle dualities.”

The self-published book was released June 1, 2014