Evans' Images: Objects/Symbols

Clarence John Laughlin said:

"The creative photographer sets free the human contents of objects; and imparts humanity to the inhuman world around him."


These images of Evans' do speak of the world around them. Evans photographs these objects from a straight on camera position, as if looking at them at eye level. There is no exagerrated suggestiveness; there is just an object, that Evans recorded as objectively as he could . The Shoe-shine stand, and the Minstrel Show poster are symbols. They are evidence of the cultural rituals that occured in the Southeastern United States, in the 1930's. One would not think to record objects that may seem unimportant, and passive. But Evans knew there was significance in items such as these.

 The graves (below) are an example of time passing.  
The image below left, speaks of the encroaching steel mills, that seem to 
 the purity and sanctity of the graveyard. The houses are caught 
between the two--sandwiched by the past(the graveyard) and the future(steel mills
 of modern industry).  Living in the present, in the post depression 1930's,
 therefore must entail... what?
 I do not  know. Evans probably did not know, either, but he knew that there
 was something here that needed expression--not definition, per say--but 
 an attempt to say, "here is somthing, right now, look at it." 
 This again, is Evans' "documentary style"; he just gives you
 the pieces of the puzzle--you, the viewer, the audience, put the puzzle 
 His style does not make you think he is evaluating, 
but instead, it just seems as if he is effectively and objectively 
Lincoln Kirstein pointed out, about Evans' photographs:
"Even the inanimate things...seem waiting in their own
 patient dignity, posing for their picture."
Evans felt these things just presented themselves to him, he was not 
 consciously looking for artifacts:
"...things were looking for me, I felt--just calling to me."
Evans' last comment is particularly profound, I think.  For if you
 go out looking for something specific, you will find it, you will
 make it appear.  But this is not the job of the true documentary
 photographer.  Evans found things calling to him--"looking" for him.
  He, in that sense, is not subjectively choosing his subjects; the subjects
 are just presenting themselves to him.
The childs' grave (below right) is a good example of Evans' confronting an object, and recording it. He has photographed it from above, seemingly at eye height, as though he had just stumbled upon it, and looked down at it-- just as anyone might look down at something that had obstructed their path. Also, Evans has photograhed it from the side, thus, there is no identifiable epitaph; it exists alone, and unspecific. It is in the center of the frame, plain and simple, with no distraction, or contextualization except for the surrounding barren ground from which it was dug. The shadow, too, gives you a sense of depth perception and realistic perspective--that is, it shows that the object occupies three-dimensional space.
Evans has interpretted this grave with his camera just as he found it: undisturbed.

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