Monday, September 30, 2013

Nicholas Nixon: Friendly, West Virginia, 1982

This apparent family portrait appears in the 'depictive' section of Stephen Shore's book 'The Nature of Photographs'.

'... a photographer solves a picture, more than composes one.'

Shore inisists that Nixon's photo 'solves' the scene it captures. He seems to be suggesting that a photograph recreates the world as a more coherent version of itself; a photographer doesn't simply 'compose' its elements into a certain arrangement, but selects the ideal point of view. In the case of Friendly, West Virginia, Nixon's photo is clearly referencing Walker Evans' photos of the victims of the Great Depression. We duly make the comparison between depression-era sharecroppers and the poor of Nixon's own time. This perhaps makes the photo more of a complication of than a solution to the world it depicts.

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