Monday, May 08, 2006
Imaginary Cartography, II
Jack Whinery and his family, homesteaders, Pie Town, New Mexico. September 1940; Library of Congress, FSA-OWI Collection.
The striking and moving image serves as the cover to a book catalogue compiled by W.W. Norton; it has stayed with me since I first saw it a few weeks ago. Though I'm familiar with Walker Evans' riveting photographs of southern sharecroppers and resettled farmers from this period, I'd never before seen an image from this milieu produced in color.
In a metaphorical sense, a photograph of this type can capture and chart familial and social connections, providing a kind of map of this terrain for the viewer. (Will we ever know the first name of Mrs. Jack Whinery, for example?)
Images like this can also evoke emotion by revealing the human dignity retained by non-elite individuals ensnared within economic or social systems geared to strip that very dignity from them.
It's probably just color v. b&w :)
That the picture captures the kids while they're moving (leaning to the side, looking away, pursing their lips, just having talked[?]) adds to the sense of real-ness, too.