Trail Blaze was inspired in part by the experience of being immersed in other people’s junk while I was working on the dis/order series but also from the fortuitous revelation that a friend’s father was willing to give up hundreds of matchbooks that he had collected on business trips (as a traveling salesman) in the ‘60s and ‘70s. I am interested in the romance and nostalgia that accompanies the notion of the traveling salesman and the potential stories and affect that can be harnessed through these once commonplace objects. The title, Trail Blaze, offers a point of entry to understanding the matchbook archive: as a verb the title represents the pathway forged by the intrepid salesman, and as a noun it identifies the markers of this journey that make up the collection. The matchbook is a symbol of both a particular way of moving through the landscape and an attitude towards it: rather than leaving a flag at each summit, the salesman pockets a matchbook.
Aesthetically, the matchbooks are photographed with maximum focus on a plain white background to forefront the evidentiary quality of the objects depicted and to reference the cataloging of an archive. Scale is important in this body of work – the large-scale images (totemic and monumental matchbooks that stand in for the place to which they refer) are meant to contrast the small-scale images (intimate and personal matchbooks that are meant to be pocketed). Narratives are implied through image juxtapositions and also through titles of individual works.