Wednesday, December 9, 2015

PhotoNOLA, also Eliot Dudik and this Broken Land

PhotoNOLA, the last major Southern photography festival of 2015, opens this week in New Orleans and runs through December 13th, 2015. 

The folks at PhotoNOLA always organize a rich array of events, exhibitions, and speakers, and somehow get so much done in a very short period of time. 

The full  Calendar of Events is here. The list of affiliated exhibitions is here.  

There look to be a number of fine shows of photography now up for PhotoNOLA. 

The list is way too long to mention all of them.

Perhaps the most important of these for us is the show of work by Eliot Dudik at the New Orleans Photo Alliance Gallery, now up through February 14, 2016. 

This show features work from Dudik's Broken Land and Still Lives portfolios. 

This show is especially important because Dudik won the PhotoNOLA Review Prize during the 2014 PhotoNOLA; this show is part of Dudik's award.

Dudik's work addresses directly the traces of the Civil War as etched across the landscape of America and of the American South.

His Broken Land images show us how the landscapes of Civil War battlefields look today, still fractured by memory and by the ways now-ancient divisions persist in our society.

His Still Lives work documents the continuing struggle to understand the Civil War, to be found in the faces of Civil War reenactors, here seen reenacting the deaths of those whose actions these folks struggle to keep alive in our time.

Reviewer Roy Flukinger, of the Harry Ransom Center, had this to say about Dudik's work: 

Dudik has, Flukinger writes, "brought to bear on these Civil War battlefield landscapes, as well as both the ghosts of reenactors and the transformations of man and nature" a "panoramic" vision

Flukingeer continues, "While his sense of scale and color add to the elegant vitality of his prints, it is primarily [Dudik's] sense of human history and the ceaseless cogency of time itself that make" his work so powerful and compelling. 

Congratulations to all the folks who bring us PhotoNOLA, and to Dudik, who helps us understand the division that runs through Southern history and culture. 

As Leonard Cohen once wrote, "There is a crack in everything, a crack that lets the light get in."  Dudik's work helps us see the crack; his vision helps us notice the light. 

Or, at least, one can hope, in this season of expectation. 

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