Ground: A Reprise of Photographs from the Farm Security Administration

Bill McDowell

BOOK INFO 
Hardcover, 8.75 X 11.75 In. / 176 Pages / Duotone 
ISBN 9781942084129 
List Price: $50.00 

In Ground, Bill McDowell has assembled a series of "killed" negatives from the FSA archives, many of which have never before been published. These include several photographs from 1936 that Walker Evans had made for Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, the book he published with James Agee. Also included are never before published photographs by Walker Evans, Russell Lee, Ben Shahn, Marion Post Wolcott, John Vachon, Paul Carter, Theodor Jung, Carl Mydans, and Arthur Rothstein.

While the book's images document 1930s agriculture and landscapes, they also have been chosen for the manner in which their black hole (created by Roy Stryker's hole punch) abstracts its subjects. McDowell feels that in today's culture the "killed" negatives' black hole has the appearance of being a contemporary mark, one current with the practice of intervention, alteration, and appropriation. This provides the photographs a temporal duality in which they present the post-Depression era through a contemporary filter. In our continuing struggle to recover from 2008's Great Recession, these photographs speak to now even as they confer on past government programs, race and class, damaged and bountiful land, drought, flood, and exodus.