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Robert Hite: Above the Fray

There is a generally held belief that photographs tell the truth. Even now, in an era when digital technology can be used to manipulate images in numerous ways, there is something about a photograph that asserts itself as a window to a real place and time. Indeed, Robert Hite’s large-format prints document a built form within a landscape. Crisply detailed and persuasively tangible, these environments are also infused with curious relationships of scale and architectural eccentricity. Are we in the presence of something extraordinary? Perhaps there is magic afoot.

Perched on spindly appendages above ground or water, these structures bear the hallmarks of hand-made habitation: a patchwork of weathered, scavenged cladding, an undulating roofline, doors and windows framed with what’s at hand. Often gently tilting or sloping on their precarious legs, they are at once succumbing to and defying what lies below. Robert Hite carefully constructs these sculptures out of found and collected materials, and photographs them in various locations around the Hudson Valley. His rural southern upbringing and travels around the developing world inform his approach to architecture as a functional but poetic compilation of disparate available parts. The sculptures and lyrical, atmospheric photographs echo with the harsh necessities of poverty and transience, but also with resiliency and resourcefulness. Implied too in these rambling clusters and sharp-peaked towers is the habitation of a community, and the efforts of a collective to resist dissolution, the ravages of time and nature, rising together above the fray.