In 2007 I started a personal photography project, Middletown USA, which is still ongoing.  During research I learned there are 16 US states that all have a town named Middletown.  Pennsylvania actually has four in four different counties.  

Having grown up in Sweden I’ve always been fascinated with how, why, and where American’s live outside of New York and other major cities.  I was also interested to experience how different or similar the Middletown’s would be, feel, and look.  

I think it’s safe to say that the Middletown’s are not often destinations or vacation spots.  They are usually, as the name “Middle-Town” indicates, a spot on the map between two large places going back to the stage coach days.  Thanks to the interstate road system it’s not that likely one would ever visit a Middletown, unless you live, work, go to school, or have family there.  Geographically, Middletown is mostly a Northeast and Midwestern occurrence.  Kentucky and Virginia in the South and California in the West are the only exceptions.  

The Middletown’s vary, visually and in many other ways; from the upscale Middletown Rhode Island with its beautiful beaches and surf scene located next to Newport, to the hard hit industrial Middletown Ohio where unemployment is high and main street stores are boarded up.  They also vary incredibly in size; from the smallest of 199 inhabitants in Missouri to the largest, in New Jersey, with 66,000+ inhabitants.  

This is not documentary project about the decline of post industrial or small town USA.  Rather it’s a personal search for vernacular beauty outside my urban comfort zone.  I search through housing subdivisions, main streets, office parks, recreational areas, industrial sites, and more, for scenes that appeal to me, viscerally.  Form is at least as important as content, as with all my work.  Though I’ve added some portraits to the project the place itself is more important to me, than the people that live there now.  I enjoy my role as the outsider looking in.             

I have completed my first round of visits and photographed all 16 Middletown’s.  My goal is to re-visit each Middletown during two or three extended road trips over the next couple of years, eventually resulting in a book.