Prints made from negatives disclose reality faced by farming communities during Great Depression
Beautiful but mutilated images of rural America by some of the most famous photographers of the 20 th century will shortly go on display for the first time at the Whitechapel gallery in London.
Each of the photographs, published for the first time, including works by Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Russell Lee, bears an eerie black place. The black circles- obliterating the entire face of a farmer in North Dakota, the right eye of a woman in Arkansas, or resembling an eclipsed sunlight hanging in the sky over labourers in Maryland- were created when the negatives were censored in the 1930 s by clipping them with a metal punch.
Many of the 175,000 photographs in the Farm Security Association archive became defining images of the Great Depression, including Evans’s gaunt sharecropper families, Lange’s portraits of farm women with nothing left except willpower, and Arthur Rothstein’s Fleeing a Dust storm, a surreal scene of a family opposing to keep their feet in the wind that has already rent their farm buildings to shreds.
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