Dispatch From PhotoNOLA

By  |  December 14, 2014

As someone who has only visited New Orleans for very short periods of time, PhotoNOLA was a perfect introduction to the photographic community in the city. I was able to see the work of many of our Eyes on the South artists, and I even met a few of them. I was also happy to hear a moving and heartfelt lecture by Emmet Gowin. Presented here are a few of the visual highlights from the weekend, most of which will run in galleries a few more weeks. I highly recommend tracking the exhibits down if you're in New Orleans over the holidays.


 “Fact and Fiction: Imagining the West" (Cole Pratt gallery).


Artist statement:

The work combines photographs of Tucumcari, New Mexico with images from the Tabernas Desert in Spain. This barren landscape on the Almeria province was often used as a substitute for the United States in “Spaghetti Western” films. Together, the color photographs represent a modern day western that explores the tension between the actual west and an imagined west.


"A Stranger to Me" (809 Piety Street)

Artist statement: 
A series of over-sized tintypes exploring a relationship of 16 years by means of metaphor, allegory and factual re-interpretation. These images are a reflection of my relationship with my partner Brian. It is a work in progress, focusing on issues of race, boredom, sexual identity, poverty and beauty, as well as a record of sorts, of some of our days spent together. These tintypes, which measure 19in' x 23in' and 20in' x 24in', are made in collaboration with Bruce Schultz. Schultz has fashioned a camera obscura by attaching a Cooke 530mm lens to a red ice fishing tent. This serves as the camera (with exposure times ranging between 16 and 22 seconds), and also the darkroom. We are exploring the idea of trying to know someone---the feeling of knowing them well, and then at times, not at all. It's an attempt to make something that expresses the desire, the frustration and the occasional contentment of trying to find intimacy with another human being.



"Crusher Run: exploring landscape a stone's throw from the interstate" (The Front) 


Artist statement:

An installation of photographs and sculptures with LED lights, conduit pipe, tires, pilings, and tree parts draws from a long term body of work inspired by a small corner of Georgia a stone's throw from the interstate. I am drawn to the incidental witnessing and the compulsive recording of a place in all seasons over years, for love of it and fear it may be lost. These woods are the watershed for what flows under the highway and the acoustical shed for what flows along it. The interstate is an escape, a human migration corridor, and an inexorable barrier to animal movement. The woods, too, are an escape. Roaming their contours, I feel the animals holding their breath. A sense of peace and of trespass are partnered.

Crusher run is ground limestone finer than gravel, coarser than silt. It’s found in creek beds and road beds and under asphalt. My great-grandfather built roads including, in his off-time, the narrow tracks through these woods, looked after now by my father who moves the fallen trees. Wild animals also use these roads as thoroughfares. Scent trails of movement keyed to geography but separated by time overlap like shadows. Movements overlaid one upon the other make a topography of experience, embedded adjacency, and near misses. The sounds of wood cicadas mingle with grinding truck gears. Trees fall into the clefts of companion trees who bear their weight until a heavy rain looses their root balls and down they both go.

In the way a river delta resembles a tree or a slice of the brain's hippocampus resembles a tree, the branching of arteries and feeder routes in the human vascular system form a map of roads and highways that intersect, bisect, transverse. Highways are arteries. Trees are essential circulatory systems. These trees, these woods are entwined in mine.

In any circulatory system there are occlusions. The tree does its best to grow around them. New growth emerges from a stump. On the operating table the surgeon inserts a stent. A tire rolls off the interstate and floats downstream where a raccoon investigates its caches. Trees draw their reciprocal forms in shadows on the ground.

 TAMMY MERCURE (curator)

"The Blue Library" (Press Street Gallery, room 220)

This show consisted entirely of self-published photo books from a variety of photographers. Several past Eyes on the South artists were featured here, including Tamara Reynolds, Anne Conway Jennings, Jared Ragland, and Aaron Turner. 
Mercure's statement:
In the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries, printed books dropped in price and the chapbook rose in popularity. Today there is a similar rise with the affordability of great, inexpensive color photobook printing. The Blue Library celebrates the current renaissance of cheaply printed, high quality photobooks. To be considered for the exhibition, photographers were invited to design a chapbook using Blurb/MagCloud. The book were designed with a MagCloud template ready-to-print. The book had to be less than forty pages and be the 5.25″ x 8.25″ or 8.25″ x 5.25″ format. The subject matter was open- traditionally chapbooks cover all subject matter from religious to romance to debauchery. We selected 50 chapbooks to print and display. The chosen books are exhibited and then put in the collection at Room 220. In addition, a set will sent to the Indie Photobook Library.

Jeff Rich is a photographer based in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. Jeff currently teaches photography at Coastal Carolina University. He curates the OA’s weekly photo series, Eyes on the South.