A Peculiar Paradise- Florida Photographs by Nathan Benn shows its subject-Benn's homestate-at the dawn of the 1980s, during a time when Florida's only true constant was change. Although some regions rested like the state's alligators, staid and satisfied, other areas became a hotbed for the narcotics trade and a hub for Caribbean and South American immigration. This increasing cultural diversity (Miami's English-speaking Caucasian population was in free fall, from 84% in 1950 to just 12% by 1990), and the state's innate peculiarity is captured here with the keen sense of an anthropologist and the glint-in-the-eye of a local.
The pictures, fittingly, sometimes feel urgent, sometimes leisurely. Kodachrome film's distinctive color palette seems tailor-made to its purpose here, displayed to full effect with expressive composition and sumptuous texture. Benn's vibrant, idiosyncratic images reflect the charming, sometimes dangerous, chaos of Florida at the time, a place that came to embody both the quintessence of suburban Americana and the depth of the melting pot, and the source of Benn's own nostalgic longing.