New photography exhibition explores life in the South from 16 different perspectives

ABOVE: Dawoud Bey, Kanisha, 1996, dye diffusion transfer printing

In 1996, while preparing a comprehensive historical study of photography in the southern United States, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta commissioned three contemporary photographers to create new bodies of work on the region. Sally Mann’s eerie pre-war plantation landscapes, Dawoud Bey’s pensive portraits of black high school students, and Alex Webb’s whimsical street photography in and around Atlanta were so touching that the High has quickly enlisted another photographer, then another.

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A quarter of a century, six curators and hundreds of images later, in November the museum goes up Imagine the South: 25 years, an exhibition celebrating his 16 commissions, including three new series from An-My Lê, Jim Goldberg and Sheila Pree Bright. For these latter projects, current curator of photography Gregory Harris, who was 12 when the inaugural exhibit opened, sought out documentary-style practitioners with new perspectives on the South while trying to correct the imbalances. earlier racial and gender issues. “It was evident that there were far fewer women than men who had received the commission, and most of the people were white,” he says, “so we wanted to bring in more diverse perspectives.”

Controlled burn, Wynne, Arkansas, 2021, pigment inkjet print. – Credit: courtesy of Jim Goldberg “width =” 1000 “height =” 563 “srcset =” https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Goldberg_Controlled_Burn.jpg 1000w, https: // robbreport. com / wp-content / uploads / 2021/10 / Goldberg_Controlled_Burn.jpg? resize = 150.84 150w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Goldberg_Controlled_Burn.jpg?resize=300,169 300w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Goldberg_Controlled_Burn.jpg?resize=768.432 768w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Goldberg_Controlled_Burn.jpg?resize = 980,551 980w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Goldberg_Controlled_Burn.jpg?resize=640,360 640w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Goldberg_Controlled_Burn .jpg? resize = 320,180 320w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Goldberg_Controlled_Burn.jpg?resize=660,371 660w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021 /10/Goldberg_Controlled_Burn.jpg?resize=480,270 480w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/202 1/10 / Goldberg_Controlled_Burn.jpg? Resize = 960,540 960w, https://robbreport.com/wp- content / uploads / 2021/10 / Goldberg_Controlled_Burn.jpg? resize = 230,129 230w, https: // robbrepo rt.com/wp- content / uploads / 2021/10 / Goldberg_Controlled_Burn.jpg? resize = 184,103 184w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Goldberg_Controlled_Burn.jpg?resize=170,96 170w, https: // robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Goldberg_Controlled_Burn.jpg?resize=600,338 600w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Goldberg_Controlled_Burn.jpg ? resize = 125.70 125w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Goldberg_Controlled_Burn.jpg?resize=110.62 110w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads / 2021/10 / Goldberg_Controlled_Burn .jpg? Resize = 285,160 285w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Goldberg_Controlled_Burn.jpg?resize=800,450 800w “sizes =” (max-width: 1000px ) 100vw, 1000px “/>Courtesy of Jim Goldberg

Lê, for example, immigrated to the United States as a refugee from her native Vietnam when she was a teenager and now lives in Brooklyn. She has previously documented the South, photographing men re-enacting the fighting of the Vietnam War in the woods, and won a MacArthur Foundation “genius” scholarship in 2012. “One thing that interests An-My is how the past is always present, and we grapple with the past as we navigate into the future, ”says Harris. For Imagine the South, Le photographed the anti-racism protests last year in Washington, DC, capturing what Harris calls the “contrast between these contemporary civic actions and historic monuments and buildings,” as well as the inevitable artifice that results from the production of such events for media consumption.

Goldberg, based in San Francisco, also came to the mission as an alien. Choosing to explore the nuances of small town life, he focused on two communities in Arkansas where many clans, white and black, have lived for generations. “Some of the families who still own the land and have a lot of political control are the descendants of people who owned the ancestors of other residents of this same city,” says Harris. A river serves as a metaphor for both power and division. “The work is really subtle. There are raw, hard-to-watch images where emotion and economic disparity run high. And then there are these other images which are very tender and human. It really gets into the intricacies of these two cities and how people relate to each other. It is fascinating work.

Toxic water treatment plant, Georgetown, South Carolina, 2001, pigment inkjet print. – Credit: courtesy of Emmet Gowin “width =” 1000 “height =” 563 “srcset =” https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Gowin_Toxic_Water.jpg 1000w, https : // robbreport. com / wp-content / uploads / 2021/10 / Gowin_Toxic_Water.jpg? resize = 150.84 150w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Gowin_Toxic_Water.jpg?resize=300,169 300w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Gowin_Toxic_Water.jpg?resize=768.432 768w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Gowin_Toxic_Water.jpg?resize = 980,551 980w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Gowin_Toxic_Water.jpg?resize=640,360 640w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Gowin_Toxic_Water .jpg? resize = 320,180 320w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Gowin_Toxic_Water.jpg?resize=660,371 660w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021 /10/Gowin_Toxic_Water.jpg?resize=480,270 480w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Gowin_Toxic_Water.jpg?resize=960,540 960w, https: // robbrepo rt.com/wp- content / uploads / 2021/10 / Gowin_Toxic_Water.jpg? resize = 230,129 230w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Gowin_Toxic_Water.jpg?resize=184 103 184w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Gowin_Toxic_Water.jpg?resize=170.96 170w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Gowin_Toxic_Water .jpg? resize = 600,338 600w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Gowin_Toxic_Water.jpg?resize=125,70 125w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads / 2021 /10/Gowin_Toxic_Water.jpg?resize=110,62 110w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Gowin_Toxic_Water.jpg?resize=285,160 285w, https://robbreport.com / wp -content / uploads / 2021/10 / Gowin_Toxic_Water.jpg? resize = 800,450 800w “sizes =” (max-width: 1000px) 100vw, 1000px “/>Courtesy of Emmet Gowin

Unlike the other two, Bright is a southerner black and lives outside of Atlanta, where she found inspiration in her own backyard: the massive Stone Mountain Memorial, which features 90-foot portraits. from top Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall. Jackson carved out the granite face of the peak – a Mount Rushmore for the Lost Cause revisionist trash. Completed in 1972, the site has become a popular but controversial tourist attraction, with a summer laser show. Harris says Bright’s footage captures “the importance [the Southern landscape] a for black residents of the South.

The works of the current trio will take place alongside the disgruntled loners of Alec Soth, from Richard Misrach’s chronicle of the 85-mile stretch of Louisiana petrochemical plants known as Cancer Alley, from the subversive and lighthearted view of Martin Parr from the layers of Atlanta society and Kael Alford’s review of marginalized Native American communities. .

Marshes and pipeline, Geismar, Louisiana, 1998, print 2012, pigment inkjet print. – Credit: courtesy of Richard Misrach “width =” 1000 “height =” 563 “srcset =” https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Misrach_Swamp.jpg 1000w, https: // robbreport. com / wp-content / uploads / 2021/10 / Misrach_Swamp.jpg? resize = 150.84 150w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Misrach_Swamp.jpg?resize=300,169 300w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Misrach_Swamp.jpg?resize=768.432 768w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Misrach_Swamp.jpg?resize = 980,551 980w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Misrach_Swamp.jpg?resize=640,360 640w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Misrach_Swamp .jpg? resize = 320,180 320w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Misrach_Swamp.jpg?resize=660,371 660w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021 /10/Misrach_Swamp.jpg?resize=480,270 480w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Misrach_Swamp.jpg?resize=960,540 960w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content / uploads / 2021/10 / Mi srach_Swamp.jpg? resize = 230,129 230w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Misrach_Swamp.jpg?resize=184,103 184w, https: // robbreport. com / wp-content / up loads / 2021/10 / Misrach_Swamp.jpg? resize = 170.96 170w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Misrach_Swamp.jpg?resize=600,338 600w, https: // robbreport. com / wp-content / uploads / 2021/10 / Misrach_Swamp.jpg? resize = 125.70 125w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Misrach_Swamp.jpg?resize=110.62 110w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Misrach_Swamp.jpg?resize=285,160 285w, https://robbreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Misrach_Swamp.jpg ? resize = 800,450 800w “sizes =” (max-width: 1000px) 100vw, 1000px “/>Courtesy of Richard Misrach

The anniversary show is by no means a coda. “Our intention is to continue,” says Harris, although he notes that Imagine the south is not endowed, which means the museum must raise funds every time a curator wishes to invite a new photographer. “But it’s worth it.”

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