Oraien Catledge took some amazing photographs of the residents of Cabbagetown in the 1980s and 90s. Because of the use of black & white and the focus on working-class subjects, Catledge’s pictures have often been compared to the Depression-era images of Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange. Unlike the FSA photographers, who often took their pictures and moved on, Catledge burrowed into a single place and culture over a long period of time, much like an ethnographer. Catledge was welcomed into the lives and homes of Cabbagetown residents, partly because he showed up there virtually every weekend for over twenty years but also because he routinely gave something back, namely pictures and lots of them. There may be other examples of street photographers who have routinely given prints back to their subjects, but I don’t know any.
A retrospective of Catledge’s work will be published in August, and an exhibition at the Mississippi Museum of Art will begin in October. I’ve been asked to produce a video loop for the museum exhibition, and this segment will be part of that larger piece. To view the video in a larger size, click here. Thanks to Constance Lewis for helping produce this segment.