Monday, December 14, 2009

Dan Plunkett Photographs the South


Artists in the South are often working out their relationship to issues that are part of the region's culture and history.  Race is usually a concern, as are women and class and one's parents and the relationship between education and parochialism and four centuries of agony, rage, and oppression. Faulkner said that in the South the past isn't dead; it isn't even past. Being southern can seem a burden, even a curse. I don't know many southerners who really appreciate our history who can live comfortably with it.

This book of  photographs by Dan Plunkett contains work that is in the center of all these issues. Dan has been photographing in the South for a long time; he grew up in Louisiana and has worked as a laborer and has climbed the educational ladder from BA to MA to PhD and the economic ladder to professional success.

Yet Ryan Plunkett, his son, says the work in this book started with photographs of an abandoned sharecropper's shack but really got going when Plunkett photographed his father who had just thrown away a good job and ten years of sobriety for a new Oldsmobile and a week-long drunk.

Ryan says HIS daddy captures an "unquantifiable southern grace" in his photographs, documenting a "delicate mixture of sense and senselessness" that characterizes the South. Dan's father did, too, in his own way, especially the senseless part. Go here to check out Dan's efforts to come to terms with this legacy through his photography.

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