What is seen and what is said

The New English Landscape

005 copy

Derelict barn, Dartford, Kent, 2007

In 1936 the writer James Agee and photographer Walker Evans were commissioned by Fortune magazine to produce an article on the lives of poor sharecroppers in the American South. The ethos of Roosevelt’s New Deal produced a whole series of collaborations between writers, photographers, artists, composers, choreographers and ethnologists, encouraged and funded to portray the lives of everyday American life in all its regions and cultures. The article eventually led to a book which was published in 1941, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, now regarded as one of the great books of the 20th century. In his introduction, Agee wrote quite specifically on the relationship between the words and the images: ‘The photographs are not illustrative. They, and the text, are coequal, mutually independent, fully collaborative.’

The subject of how writers and photographers work together is, not surprisingly, something which deeply interests…

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