Tabitha Soren: Fantasy LifePhotographs by Tabitha Soren
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In 2002, Tabitha Soren first began photographing a group of minor league draft picks for the Oakland A’s—young men coming into the major league farm system straight from high school or college. Since then, she has followed the players through their baseball lives, an alternate reality of long bus rides, on-field injuries, friendships and marriages entered and exited, constant motion, and very hard work, often for very little return. Some of the subjects, like Nick Swisher and Joe Blanton, have gone on to become well-known, respected players at the highest level of the game. Some left baseball to pursue other lines of work, such as selling insurance and coal mining. Others have struggled with poverty and even homelessness.
Fifteen years after that first shoot, Fantasy Life portrays a selection of these stories, gathering together a richly textured series of photographs taken on the field and behind the scenes at games, along with commentaries by each of the players and memorabilia from their lives—from kindergarten-age baseball cards to x-rays of player injuries. Dave Eggers contributes a five-part short story that compellingly condenses the roller-coaster ride of the minor-league everyman, from youthful pursuit of stardom through the slog of endless hardscrabble games, to that moment of realization that success may not be just around the corner after all. Additonally, a number of the featured players add their own real-life experiences of trying to make it to “The Show.” Together, these elements evoke the enduring spirit of this quintessential American fantasy of making it in the major leagues.
Tabitha Soren left a successful career in television in 1999 to start another one as a photographer. Her work is included in public collections such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Oakland Museum of California; Transformer Station, Cleveland, Ohio; Pier 24 Photography, San Francisco; New Orleans Museum of Art; Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, Indiana; and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans. Her work has been featured in Dear Dave, McSweeney’s, Vanity Fair, New York Times Magazine, Blink, Slate, New York, Sports Illustrated, California Sunday Magazine, and ESPN The Magazine. She is represented by the Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles.
Dave Eggers (short story) is a best-selling author whose most recent books include Heroes of the Frontier (2016), Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? (2014), The Circle (2013), and A Hologram for the King (2012), which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award. He is also the founder of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing company based in San Francisco.