Gough uses this project as "a lifeline—a way of accessing home from afar. The tension between the realities captured on film and the mythical Kentucky that can only exist in song lyrics imbues these photographs with a sense of loss and impermanence."
More definitively, though, we see “South,” and we think “slavery.” I know because I’m a poet, and the poet in this South must say what historians and politicians and journalists and scientists neglect to say. Let me go further.
She tries a few more no-but-where-are-you-REALLY-froms, then asks, “What’s your cultural heritage?” “Bangladeshi,” I say, relieved. She chortles, as though we have been playing a game of charades and she has just correctly interpreted my gestures. She exclaims: “I knew you were Middle Eastern!”
However, the sculpture of Roosevelt accompanied by the Indigenous American and enslaved African says something else to me: we helped make America—we are not its victims. We are its heroes. Even by the river in Nantes, I didn’t just feel sorrow. I felt glory.
These images are made within close proximity to the Chattahoochee Valley, which composes a portion of the border between Alabama and Georgia. Many of the images are prompted by specific memories I have from growing up in and around the Chattahoochee River.