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Mitch Epstein
Family Business
HC 28,5 x 32 cm., 295 pp.
Steidl 2003

In the summer of 1999, two boys barely in their teens were so bored they started a fire in a boarded up apartment building in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The fire spread and engulfed an entire city block. Mitch Epstein's father owned the building and was sued for 15 million dollars he didn't have; Epstein's father also owned a once successful furniture store that now faced liquidation. Family Business is an epic work about the demise of a Jewish immigrant dynasty and it traces the fall of a New England town from industrial giant to drug-dealing capital.
Epstein has combined formally rigorous pictures with fluid video clips to recreate his father's universe. The book's four chapters ? Store, Property, Town, Home ? include photographs, storyboards, video stills and dialogues. In Family Business he has invented a unique format: a mixed-media novel. The book's conceptual ambitions are matched by its fearless humanity. Surprising, hard-hitting and haunting, it resembles nothing seen before.

 


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