Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pretty Polly

A little creepiness for Halloween. An animated video by Jonas Tarestad based on Dock Boggs awesomely unsettling (unsettlingly awesome?) 1927 rendition of the old murder ballad "Pretty Polly." Before the true crime novel--and long before Law & Order--America got its murder fix from ballads. Weird.

Lingering Faces

A private collector of U.S. Civil War-related photographs recently donated his collection of nearly 700 portraits of soldiers and sailors to the Library of Congress. The Liljenquist Family Collection is the largest collection of its kind the organization has received in years. The LOC has made most of them available online in its Prints and Photographs Reading Room and is planning to release the rest in the coming weeks. It's a haunting gallery of faces, many of which are quite young.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Photographs of Life in Kentucky in the 1960s and 1970s by William Gedney

Photographer William Gedney recorded these moments in the lives of Kentucky mining families in 1964 and 1972. These images are from the Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, which provides the following description:

William Gedney made two trips to eastern Kentucky. In the summer of 1964, he traveled to the Blue Diamond Mining Camp in Leatherwood, Kentucky and stayed for awhile at the home of Boyd Couch, head of the local United Mine Workers Union. Then Gedney met Willie Cornett, who was recently laid off from the mines, his wife Vivian, and their twelve children. He soon moved in with the Cornett family, staying with them for eleven days. Twenty-two of the photographs from Gedney's 1964 visit to Kentucky were included in his one-man exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (December 1968 through March 1969). Gedney corresponded with the Cornetts over many years, and finally returned to Kentucky to visit and photograph the family again in 1972. In his notebooks Gedney writes about these lives he witnessed and photographed, the complicated relationships within such large families, the importance of the automobile. Gedney made notes about a creating a book dummy of the Kentucky work, but no completed dummy exists in the archive. With the exception of one image, the Kentucky photographs were never published during William Gedney's lifetime.