Morning fog obscures houses on Friday, March 23, 2012 in Webster City, IA.

Patty sits at C&C American Tap, a local bar, on Saturday, July 14, 2012 in Webster City, IA.

Girls watch the Hamilton County Fair Parade on Monday, July 23, 2012 in Webster City, IA.

The closed down Electrolux factory after a thunderstorm on Saturday, July 28, 2012 in Webster City, IA.

Lloyd Heslop looks at his belongings scattered in the yard after being evicted from his apartment on Monday, July 16, 2012 in Webster City, IA.

A man detassles corn in a field on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 near Webster City, IA. The seasonal job, which used to employ mostly local children, has increasingly been taken over by Mexican immigrants.

Girls play with a found feather and trampoline in their back yard on Sunday, April 28, 2013 in Webster City, IA.

Girls prepare to perform a dance routine before the coronation of the Hamilton County Fair Queen on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 in Webster City, IA.

Donovan Nokes closes up his hunting blind after an unsuccessful afternoon waiting for deer on Monday, December 5, 2011 in Webster City, IA.

Jesse Smith ice fishing at Briggs Woods pond on Sunday, January 19, 2014, in Webster City, IA.

Jesse Hubbard, James Hill, and Riley Jensen play with toy guns on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 in Webster City, IA.

A dog is fenced in a yard on Monday, November 12, 2012 in Webster City, IA.

The door to an abandoned house is sealed with a board on Thursday, January 16, 2014, in Webster City, IA.

Tim Hodges drives his wife’s car around town on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 in Webster City, IA.

Bryan Dayton takes a handgun to shoot a trapped raccoon, which he will sell for fur, on Saturday, November 17, 2012 in Webster City, IA.

A raccoon, trapped in a snare by Bryan Dayton, awaits its fate on Saturday, November 17, 2012 in Webster City, IA.

Joe McFarland, left, takes a picture as Steve McFarland watches a bonfire burn in his back yard on Sunday, March 25, 2012 in Webster City, IA.

Bailey Morton, followed by her date Trevor Carlson and friend Cole Hilpipre, leaves for her senior prom on Saturday, April 27, 2013 in Webster City, IA.

Aimee Jo Kelly lays on a chair during a party on Saturday, November 17, 2012 in Webster City, IA.

Charlene Worrick retrieves recently painted ice skates hung out to dry on Monday, July 16, 2012 in Webster City, IA.

A small shed behind businesses on Second Street on Friday, July 27, 2012 in Webster City, IA.

Lexey Worrick sits on her swing set on Sunday, April 28, 2013 in Webster City, IA.

Alazar “Junior” Soto lies in the Des Moines River while tubing on Sunday, July 15, 2012 in Lehigh, IA.

Trish Backer holds her pet albino raccoon Reba in her kitchen on Sunday, November 11, 2012 in Webster City, IA.

Tony Rexroat sits on the floor crying after a long night of drinking on Thursday, July 25, 2013 in Webster City, IA.

A girl lies on top of a car on Saturday, July 21, 2012 in Webster City, IA.

People gather to watch the races at the Hamilton County Speedway on Thursday, July 26, 2012 in Webster City, IA.

Amanda Wasko stands in her friend’s garden as a storm approaches on Monday, July 22, 2013 in Webster City, IA.

A girl exercises her horse at the Hamilton County Fair on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 in Webster City, IA.

Steve McFarland lies with his daughter Alanna, left, and son Joe, center, under blankets on their back deck on Saturday, July 28, 2012 in Webster City, IA.

Cody Sleiter, age 17, lays in the grass after being suspended from school on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 in Webster City, IA.

Alazar “Junior” Soto, left, and Steve McFarland smoke and drink in the truck on the way back from tubing on the Des Moines River on Sunday, July 15, 2012 in Webster City, IA.

Patrons dance as Eric Freeman plays guitar behind Carpy’s Ale House on Saturday, April 27, 2013 in Webster City, IA.

Joe McFarland walks an old tandem bicycle to the front of his house on Monday, July 23, 2012 in Webster City, IA.

The Beating of the Heart by Brendan Hoffman

In March 2011, Webster City’s main employer shut down and moved to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Electrolux had made washing machines in the small Iowa town of 8,000 under various brand names since 1937, and now they were gone. Nearly all of a workforce that once topped 2,000 was laid off. It’s not the first community to end up in a tough spot, and it won’t be the last. In fact, it isn’t special in any particular way at all. The lack of novelty in the primary story line has allowed me to instead direct my gaze elsewhere.

And so, over the past 2½ years, through a dozen trips back to Webster City, I’ve attempted to infiltrate the psyche of the town. I want to understand from the inside the existential identity crisis happening among civic leaders and private citizens alike as yet another blue collar community stares down obsolescence. Change is incremental, and those I see are subtle to the point of being illusory. As a result, I’ve been forced (or perhaps allowed) to respond like a photographic mood ring. My pictures are a reflection of the town’s aura as much as any specific trials and tribulations.

I’ve embedded myself in daily life in Webster City, striving to capture everything from a vague anxiety about the future to telling everyday details. And yet, fundamentally, my pictures are perhaps better understood as an attempt to answer the question of what it means to be middle class in America today. The phrase represents different things to different people. Is it having one’s basic physical needs assured? Having disposable income and material goods? Is it simply freedom and opportunity? There is no one answer, and I don’t propose one. Ultimately, to be middle class is to feel middle class. Once, that implied an expectation of permanence and security, but no longer. Any comfort with the present suggests no certainty about the future. By highlighting daily routines and activities with an implied or inherent transience, my photographs hint at this comfort/uncertainty paradox which I believe fundamentally undermines the quality of life we all seek.

Dominic Bracco II Currently in Mexico City, Mexico Mobile: +521.551.648.9870
Melanie Burford Currently in Brooklyn, NY, USA Mobile: +1.917.971.3409
Brendan Hoffman Currently in Moscow, Russia Mobile: +7.967.192.1401
Charlie Mahoney Currently in Boston, MA, USA Mobile: +1.617.417.4242
Pete Muller Currently in Nairobi, Kenya Mobile: 786.546.539
Lance Rosenfield Currently in Washington, DC, USA Mobile: +1.512.569.0432
Max Whittaker Currently in Sacramento, California, USA Mobile: +1.530.218.4219
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