DEAR OLD MAN OF THE EDGELANDS is a study of one thousand miles together on old American highways in late summer. A travelogue of peaks and valleys, wide skies and short sentences, small details and big feelings. This is the story of where we were traveling from. We still don’t know where we are traveling to.
SOMETIME BLUES + WITCHES BREW is a collection of images and writing from the past year. Feeling stuck within self-assigned pressures, and a generic melancholic state, this zine is a homage to that never-ending nagging in the back of your head that tells you things could always be worse and to those short-lived moments you wish you had camera for.
Biblical narratives drive a lot of my photographic work as well as its long and rich history in the arts. I took a Bible history class during my sophomore year of high school and got an in-depth look into stories from the Old Testament and more than a few of them were new to me. One in particular was a story from Genesis, where Jacob, while traveling on the road to Canaan, encounters an angel and wrestles with the angel until daybreak. Through this struggle, Jacob becomes a much more spiritual person and finds peace with God.
This seemed like such an odd occurrence to me. The story of Jacob wrestling with the angel has been depicted through art history for centuries and years later when I saw Paul Gauguin’s “Vision After the Sermon” in college, my interest in the biblical story was renewed.
Meanwhile in my hometown of Hickory, I kept seeing these advertisements crop up on the side of the road for wrestling matches at the local National Guard Armory buildings. I was sort of interested what went on at these matches as they always seemed to hype up some of the personalities and weaponry being used. Now that my long-term undergraduate thesis project was completed, I decided to start a short project involving photographing these wrestling matches while thinking about them in a Biblical framework.
I went to a few matches over the summer, incessantly taking pictures ringside in the giant concrete Armory building. The lack of air conditioning made me feel like I was one of the wrestlers because I was sweating more than usual. It being summer and all made it that much worse. There was nothing short of fun to be had at the matches and at $8 a ticket, it was more entertaining and less expensive than a movie ticket. Girls running the merchandise table defending themselves with pizza cutters, wrestlers breaking open Diet Pepsi cans with their teeth, throwing it on the ground, and dog collar matches where two opponents duke it out while being held together by a long, chain link.
The spectacle of it all fascinated me and made it exciting for me to make pictures. Maneuvering wasn’t that easy and predicting where the match would go kept me on my toes. What resulted in this project is a new zine called “Saturday Fight Night” — Gauguin’s painting seemed a lot more important to me, and the dots of harsh stage lights in the background of the pictures felt Divine in a small way. Through the elaborate drama of the wrestlers, the same lessons Jacob learned in the wilderness about humility, masculinity, stubbornness, and ultimately, inner peace and victory were exacerbated in the wrestler’s actions and faces.
“Saturday Fight Night” is a new 26-page, color laser printed zine, signed and in an edition of 25. The cover is 67 lb. grey card stock with Gustave Doré’s 1855 depiction of Jacob Wrestling with the Angel on the cover in inkjet. The book is pamphlet-stitched with waxed linen thread and measures 7.5″ x 8.5″. Pick one up at the Empty Stretch store for $10!
When the first settlers from England were exploring what now is the American Southeast, they were in awe. They sent reports back to their country of the South appearing as an unspoiled Garden of Eden. The voluptuous greenery, warm, tropical-like temperatures and fertile soil were perfect for growing any crop they wish — it truly was Eden to their new eyes, but an Eden before the Fall.
Since then, many photographers have dealt with this concept of Eden in their work: Robert Adams and Tod Papageorge, just to name a few. This past summer I set out to search what Eden looked like now, after the Fall. The community of Eden in Rockingham County, North Carolina is just a couple short hours from my home so I went there. This particular town sits near the North Carolina — Virginia line was established by William Byrd II who had already created the little town of Richmond, Virginia. Pre-dating the Revolutionary War, Byrd’s goals of Eden were tied up in hopes of it being a self-sufficient, utopian colony.
The current Eden, North Carolina may look very different from how its founder first pictured it. I set out on a photographic investigation of this area one breezy afternoon in June 2011 to see what I could or couldn’t see. This book is the first effort of many in a series of books about biblically-named cities in the American South, with my own interpretations as well as a collaborative effort of many other artists to come, each with their own book. The text at the beginning of Eden was provided by friend and colleague, Carin Tillman. The first eight copies of the book sold will be accompanied by a silkscreened 5″ x 7″ postcard on kraft paper or red card stock that reads: “Kill the doubt that strangles my self-worth.” This comes from a song by North Carolina band, The Avett Brothers called “Sanguine” from their album The Gleam. It’s a line I keep coming back to all the time.
Eden is a 7″ x 7″ stapled laserjet printed book with 21 pictures. It’s $5 and is available now to purchase here. Thanks!
Empty Stretch is proud to announce our new zine series, Mediations! The series came to being as we met many wonderful photographers over the past year and have always enjoyed hearing the personal elements and stories behind the works we love. In fact, we loved them so much we thought we ought to share those stories with the world through a small well thought-out zine.
Mediations Two: Have You Ever? by Theo Erbenius – Follow Erbenius throughout his travels, as he relates his imagery to his own personal struggles. A trip of self reflection and running away from the things we fear most.
Mediations Three: My Countryby Ahmed Hayman – Hayman delivers a personal depiction of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution through his understanding of the historical events within the context of what it means to Egyptians, like himself. MABROUK!
Mediations Four: In Arms Reach by John Edmonds – Finally, Edmonds presents us a look into the Parisian lifestyle that one doesn’t typically find. The series goes beyond the normal bounds of diary photography, leaving the viewer demanding for more of the beautiful and relaxed imagery Edmonds presents.
All four zines are sold as a bundle at the low price of $18 which includes shipping and handling within the United States. International orders are available but please email, firstname.lastname@example.org, to set up the order.