Men wearing suits jousting with sailfish. Head-on bridge collision. Men with linoleum. Kitchen murder-suicide. Firemen playing donkey baseball. Ideal woman in apron. Through more than 10,000 images, Irwin Denison Norling, the unofficial town photographer for Bloomington, Minnesota, captured the strange juxtapositions, incongruities, and dark corners of the developing suburban America of the 1950s and '60s. A competitive amateur glued to his police radio, Norling spent years examining the light and darkness, tragedies and desolation, rituals of community and celebration through the lens of the camera, deftly capturing the uneasy dichotomy between the familiar and subversive–the familiarly subversive. "That was the way it was. And the way it was, that's what I was after."
In 2002 veteran journalist Brad Zellar unearthed Norling's negatives from the quiet basement of the Bloomington Historical Society. Compelled by the work of this man who had all but drifted into obscurity, Zellar collects the best of these images in Suburban World, a fascinating window into the uneasy contradictions in Norling's unforgettable and unselfconscious, funny and gritty, not-too-distant past.
Brad Zellar is a writer and senior editor of the monthly magazine The Rake. He first wrote about the Norling archive for City Pages in 2003. Alec Soth is an internationally acclaimed photographer and the author of Sleeping by the Mississippi.
Hardcover: 144 pages
Publisher: Borealis Books; 1 edition (April 1, 2008)