Friday, December 16, 2016

Southern Photographers in the Nasher's Southern Accent Show

I have finally gotten to the Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art show at Duke University's Nasher Museum, up now through January 8th, 2017. 

Yes, it has been just that kind of fall, so far, for me. But this show is definitely worth visiting if you are in Durham over the holidays.

The show is an effort through art to "question and explore the complex and contested space of the American South," according to the folks at the Nasher.

In the process, they want to document "the South’s profound influence on American culture, and consequently much of the world." And also to "address and complicate the many realities, fantasies and myths that have long captured the public’s imagination about the American South." And also to create "a composite portrait of southern identity through the work of 60 artists." And also to "reflect upon and pull apart the dynamic nature of the South’s social, political and cultural landscape."

Well, that's a lot, and all of it is important, even some of those goals sound contradictory to me.   

But the art is strong, including the photographs, and there is much here to contemplate.

The show includes a large and very diverse sampling of art in a number of media, including a strong gathering of photography, made chiefly since World War II. 

The photographers on offer include, of course, Eggleston, Christenberry, and Mann, as well as Jeff Whetstone, Mark Steinmetz, Tom Rankin, Burk Uzzle, and some other folks familiar to readers of the The Southern Photographer.

Here are some folks in the show we weren't so familiar with whose work is compelling. 

Cumberland Gap, Tennessee-based photographer Rachel Boillot (see image above) is included, with work from her Post Script portfolio. 

New York-based photographer Xaveria Simmons (see image above) is also in the show, with images that constitute self-portraits, with the photographer posed against iconic Southern landscapes. 

Tennessee-born photographer Jessica Ingram (see image above) has work in the show from her Road Through Midnight portfolio of images made at sites in the South important for the Civil Rights Movement. 

Diego Camposeco is in the show with work that helps us include the experience of the growing Hispanic community in the American South, from his Diego Saves the World portfolio.

Richard Misrach is also in this show, with images he made in New Orleans after Katrina, from his Destroy this Memory portfolio. 

Destroy this Memory has also been published in book form, go here.

Misrach has now done enough work in the South to be considered an Honorary Southern Photographer. 

So, strong photography forming an essential component of a major show documenting how the American South is currently being explored, and made meaning of, in the work of contemporary artists. 

Definitely worth your time and consideration if you are in Durham before the show closes on January 8th, 2017. 


  1. When it comes to southern photography, nothing beats the photos of Lee County Florida.

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