{ Stacy Kranitz: representation in an exploited place }

March 11, 2014 § 2 Comments

Do you come from a place that outsiders get wrong? That’s probably everywhere, right? I know for here, people drive through Missouri on I-70 and just see corn fields, or they know about the Ozarks and think it’s only populated with slow, happy hillbillies. However, I don’t think many people know what to think of the Midwest, or even if they ever do {evidence}. That’s quite different from Appalachia, which invokes broad images of poverty and pretty mountains with pretty much anyone you talk to. I started thinking about this when I came upon the art of Stacy Kranitz a few days ago.

From "Chasing Meth in Laurel County, Kentucky" | Mother Jones

From “Chasing Meth in Laurel County, Kentucky” | Mother Jones

“It became evident that Appalachia was a place where representation had long been vexed,” Kranitz told Mother Jones in a Q&A about her photo essay on meth. In the series, “As It Was Given to Me,” her Appalachia photos trail through the expected foggy mountainscapes and scenes poolgoers draped in American flag towels to the surprising, like portraits of gold-bedazzled men grabbing each others’ thighs and a woman standing between a Native American flag and KKK statue.

To introduce the series, Kranitz writes:

I am initially drawn to stereotypes. Then I look to demystify these stereotypes only to find that they are rooted in some sort of reality. I do not (cannot) exclude the stereotypical image from my representations.

The resulting images are interwoven with both typical and atypical lives captured through controlled and chance operations in the central Appalachian region of America. Ultimately the photographs highlight the flaws of representation in a place with an extensive history of exploitative othering by outsiders.

Photo by Stacy Kranitz
Photo by Stacy Kranitz

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