The End of the Road

The tortured metal. The mangled limbs. Mell Kilpatrick's car-crash photography takes a dark journey beyond the American highway.

Autopsy of a Chevrolet: A rollover at Red Hill and Route 101, Orange County, California
Autopsy of a Chevrolet: A rollover at Red Hill and Route 101, Orange County, California

Break down the etymology of autopsy and you get "to see with one's own eyes." The images in Car Crashes and Other Sad Stories are definitely autopsy photos, powerful postmortems, and though it's likely that Kilpatrick never imagined them as such, we might as well admit that they are art. Because virtually every one of these photographs offers a nagging variant of the dark truth we spend our lives trying to keep at shadow's length, and the dumb little profundities and commonsense rules of the road that are tattooed in every human heart: This is it. Life is fleeting. Love someone. Don't drink and drive. Buckle up. Call it mortality's ultimate mixed message: Hurry up. Slow down.

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