Photographs and essays that tease apart the tangled cultural memory of the American South
“Can photography help extend our understanding of the South and see the region in a broader American context?” writes essayist and southern literature scholar W. Ralph Eubanks in Reckonings and Reconstructions. “Yes, but what we see in an image often depends on what we already know.”
Reckonings and Reconstructions is a visual and textual investigation of southern photography since World War II. The book and its partner exhibition present 125 color photographs from the Do Good Fund by a wide-ranging group of 77 photographers, diverse in gender, race, ethnicity, and region.
W. Ralph Eubanks addresses southern memory and the ethics of photography. Grace Elizabeth Hale considers the role of Athens, Georgia—with its vibrant community of photographers, renowned photography program at the University of Georgia, and celebrated alternative art and music scene—within the history of southern photography. The essays that follow by Jasmine Amussen, Rosalind Bentley, Lauren Henkin, Jeffrey Richmond-Moll, RaMell Ross, and Jeff Whetstone examine expansive and internally paradoxical themes: land, labor, law and protest, migration, food, ritual, and kin.
Together, these themes link disparate works in the Do Good collection and capture southern history, culture, and identity in all its complexity and contradictions. With the photographs as their backbone, these essays help construct and deconstruct each thematic category, resisting notions of the South as a retrograde region and instead presenting the ever-changing qualities of the place and its people. A region where despair and hope, terror and beauty, pain and joy, and trauma and dignity coexist and comingle. A place seeking reconciliation and restoration, captured by photographers with a vision of a “Better South.”
250 pages. 155 Color and Black & White Photos 9 x 11.5 inches