The Mysteries of Our Family Snapshots

7 Jan

Here’s a taste of Geoff Dyer’s fascinating essay:

Without Walker Evans to remind them of how things once were, swaths of America would not know that there was more to their ancestral world than Bed Bath & Beyond. Evans’s work is stamped, always, by his capacity to rigorously absent himself from the records he created. This may be why James Agee, in his famous collaboration with Evans, “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men,” likened the camera “to unassisted and weaponless consciousness.” Paradoxically, the effect of Evans’s scrupulous mastery is sometimes achieved by the artlessness of the amateur. Hence the magic of — and meaning buried within — the term “found photographs.” In them, the nonhuman finds expression and achieves documentation.

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