Conceived by Stacy Kranitz, the exhibition Representing Place: Photographs of Appalachia explores the complicated series of negotiations involved in representing place and how the photographer seeks to demystify stereotypes, sum up experience, and interpret memory and history through a variety of photographic strategies.
The Appalachian region of the United States has a deeply rooted relationship to the documentary tradition. Work by Doris Ulmann, Bayard Wootten, O. Winston Link, and Walker Evans formed narratives of a place with a unique rural identity. Eventually this led to a problematic trajectory of representations of poverty that were activated through the photograph. These representations played a central role in stereotyping the region as an unseemly place. During the 1970s and 1980s, photographers such as William Gedney, Builder Levy, Susan Lipper, Rob Amberg, and Mike Smith immersed themselves deep within the terrain in an effort to demystify the tropes of poverty and offer a deeply felt acknowledgment of the region. They made substantial bodies of works by rooting themselves in the communities and forging relationships with their subjects which brings a kind of intimacy to the documentary tradition. Emerging artists like Tammy Mercure, Ken Abbott, Megan King, and Sarah Hoskins have added to this legacy with diverse works that concern race and class and offer a broadening portrait of the region’s evolution.
Representing Place: Photographs of Appalachia is on display at Tracey Morgan Gallery through March 5, 2017.