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Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Dorothea Lange: Chatham County, North Carolina


Main street, Pittsboro, Chatham County, North Carolina

Shopping and visiting on main street of Pittsboro, Chatham County, North Carolina. Saturday afternoon

Main street, Saturday afternoon. Pittsboro, North Carolina

Chatham County farmers in town on Saturday afternoon. Pittsboro, North Carolina

Street encounter on a Saturday afternoon. Pittsboro, North Carolina

Sign tacked to pole near the post office. Main street, Pittsboro, North Carolina

Tenant farmer. Chatham County, North Carolina

Tenant farmer and friend. Chatham County, North Carolina

Two tenant farmers. Chatham County, North Carolina

Wife of Negro sharecropper with two of her six children, none of whom go to school. Chatham Country, North Carolina

Negro tenant farmer reading paper on a hot Saturday afternoon. Note vegetable garden across footpath. Chatham County, North Carolina

Hickory Mount grange holds its meeting in an old school building, only white farmers attend. Chatham County, North Carolina

Fayetteville Street, Siler City, Chatham County, North Carolina

Appliqued embroideries for sale on street in front of ten cent store. Saturday afternoon. Siler City, Chatham County, North Carolina

Siler City, North Carolina. Wagons pulled up in field one block away from the main street

Photos by Dorothea Lange, July 1937, from Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress


ACravan said...

It may seem overly obvious to say (about this series and each of the other series you've made), but when I'm in the presence of these (apparently) static images of the past, of people who mostly likely might not now even exist, I feel quite a bit more alive than I do when I turn on the news and take in accounts of things purportedly presently happening in the world. I suppose that currently in media offices all over the world, someone from the Fake Emotion department is planning tomorrow's agenda of false things they can truly stir up. Curtis

TC said...

I feel exactly the same way, Curtis. And I think it's because we live in a world where the layers and levels and degrees of electronic mediation between any one person and every other person have proceeded so far that very much of our experience is of the out-of body sort, in which we are not really where we are, because we are... somewhere else. And all too often, that somewhere else is a made or managed or bought or otherwise manipulated space. And there, in that stranger space, there are nothing but strangers.

There is a distance here between the photographer and her subjects. To some extent, I think that distance is necessary, from not only an artistic but perhaps also a moral point of view -- by which I mean, the subjects, the people, however meagre their material circumstances, are allowed to retain their human dignity. That is the artist's seemingly contradictory gift, in her compassion and in her concurrent refusal of sentimentality, her deeply interested way of respectfully standing-off.

Maybe it's a confession of the poverty of my own limited sphere, but I believe I can almost feel the reality of the lives depicted here better than I can those of the people I pass on the streets, so many of them engaged these days in that private communion with a slab of black plastic, that key to a Permanent Elsewhere.