boll weevil monument

19 - Jenny Fine—Exploring White Identity in the Rural South through Photography and Performance by Vivian Liddell

Jenny Fine on her photographic series “The Saddest Day”:

They had invested all of their savings in becoming farmers…They had gotten a load of, I think they call them guilts… from some farmer…One of those pigs were sick and so it introduced …dysentery into all the pigs and they had to all be slaughtered on the same day …Basically it devastated my family. And so I was really interested in that narrative of my father and my uncle as young people having to slaughter 100 pigs or whatever all in the same day.

And that they often referred to that story as the saddest day. And so, we went to the farm to really kind of reenact that and that was just sort of the narrative I wanted to reenact. I wasn’t really sure what was gonna happen because I knew that no matter what you do— this performance for the camera— no matter how much you prepare, that you’re always at the mercy of the moment. 

And I was using my twin lens Mamiya camera— which you don’t look straight forward. You actually look down into the camera. And so I wasn’t actually facing this narrative —my family— straight on. We were in the landscape of the farm and I’m looking through this square viewfinder straight down. The landscape in a way became the stage. And as they were moving in and out of the frame they were coming on and off stage. And It became really this theatrical reenactment or attempt to reenact the saddest day.

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