dan nelken

crash'm smash'm
Biography: Photography has been my passion and my profession ever since I picked up my first camera as a student at Pratt Institute. It seemed to offer endless opportunities to interpret the world in ways that my passion, painting could not. My assignments... read on
Public Story
crash'm smash'm
Credits: dan nelken
Updated: 02/24/20

The last car moving is the winner. For its seemingly simple format, the demolition derby, part of the American rural subculture, provides participants with an opportunity to defy common sense, abandon caution and put themselves at odds with the laws of physics. It deliberately flaunts and celebrates the destruction of America’s 20th century symbol of mobility and status: the automobile.

I discovered Demolition Derby while pursuing my book project, Till the Cows Come Home: County Fair Portraits. What fascinated me, was that the people who participate spend over forty hours modifying the exhausts, engine, and customizing the cars interior and exterior to bring their car up to derby regulations. The derby also serves as a creative outlet for many drivers, who spend countless additional hours adorning their vehicles with everything from lovingly rendered illustrations to child-like graffiti and homespun sloganeering. In an odd way, the derby vehicle becomes a temporal work of art. Temporal because, in the end, each driver knows that the result of their efforts would mean only one thing: obliteration.


By dan nelken —


HeadStrong: The Women of Rural Uganda: Quarry Workers

By dan nelken — This ongoing project about the working women of rural Uganda, began in Gulu at a quarry. All the workers who..

Till the Cows Come Home

By dan nelken
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