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Ben Huff
Newspace Center for Photography, Portland, Oregon
Recommendation by Richard Speer

Ben Huff, “Mile 175. Sign, Old Man Camp” from “The Last Road North,” 2008, archival pigment print from the series “The Last Road North”. Courtesy the artist and Newspace Center for Photography.

Continuing through January 2, 2016

"The Last Road North" is photographer Ben Huff's paean to Alaska's treacherous Route 11. The road, also known as The Dalton Highway, traverses an uncannily spartan, 414-mile stretch of arboreal forest and tundra between Fairbanks and Deadhorse, within the Arctic Circle. Driving it is a rite of passage for long-haul truckers and summertime tourists willing to brave extraordinary isolation to experience the barren beauty of a quintessential road less traveled. Who would essay such formidable terrain? Huff introduces viewers to a handful of intrepid journeyers and the landscape that lures them ever northward.

Prints such as "mile 297, oil drum" and "mile 75, Alfred" are replete with rusted oil barrels, iced-in truck stops, and an array of grizzled faces lost in that particular blissed-out isolationism endemic to habitués of the 49th State. There's a poignant contrast between macrocosmic landscapes and microcosmic face-scapes in this series — a testament to Huff's unsparing, yet empathetic, observation. The artist finesses the territory between portraiture, documentary, and travel photography in this ethereal series, which transports the viewer into rarefied latitudes most of us will never see with our own eyes.

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