|Product Details |
University of New Mexico Press
About the Author
Toba Tucker, a documentary portrait photographer, has two forthcoming books of Native American portraits. Alan Trachtenberg is professor of American Studies at Yale University.
Mike Disfarmer, an eccentric local recluse, photographed the residents of Heber Springs, Arkansas, in his studio on Main Street in the 1930s and 1940s. His glass-plate negatives were discovered fifteen years after his death. Their publication and exhibition in 1976 rocked the photography world. Many compared Disfarmer's portraits to those of EugFne Atget or August Sander.
When she first saw an exhibit of Mike Disfarmer's portraits, Toba Tucker was intrigued by their raw honesty. Her curiosity drew her to Heber Springs, where she lived for two years, making portraits of some of the same people Disfarmer photographed and of many of their relatives and descendants who still live there.
This unusual book is a rephotographic study. Toba Tucker used Disfarmer's portraits as the starting point for the project, but she brought her own personal vision to the images. She shows how life in small-town America has changed since the 1940s, and how it has remained the same. In his essay, Alan Trachtenberg examines the conversation between then and now, between Disfarmer and Tucker, and observes that the strength, the individuality and vitality of the people in both sets of portraits make this book affecting and resonant. "Taken together," observes Trachtenberg, "these two quite distinct yet apposite groups of pictures create a substance, a body, a reality which compels attention. . . . As a photographic event, Heber Springs lays claim to a place in the American imagination by virtue of the mysteries it projects and the perplexities it arouses."