October 3, 2013

Joe Leavenworth: A Sort of Fiction

It is perhaps inevitable that we regard the practice of photography as being intrinsically bound up with the passage of time – the picture is understood, then, in relation to something that has already occurred and, in a sense that is indeed the case, but the terms by which this is negotiated are at once fraught and provisional. Just as memory is a fiction we actively construct from lived experience, so too is photography a sort of fiction, which merely pretends transparency, and is in fact the complex re-imagining of a given moment. With his series Native Son, Joe Leavenworth addresses this deep intersection of memory and photographic fiction, tracing what he has described as his “biographical relationship” to Georgia and the South. The specific texture of a place is the key point here, as it can only be understood in the context of our allusive relation to place itself, not as a landscape of disconnected elements, but seen through the filter of experience, and recast as memory – the sum of these encounters is that place for Leavenworth, it has no independent reality.