The book Oraien Catledge: Photographs is now available. Oraien will be signing copies of it at Lumière Gallery on Thursday night. If you can’t make it to Lumière on Thursday, go buy the book from one of your local booksellers.
Here is another segment from the video I produced for Oraien’s upcoming exhibition at the Mississippi Museum of Art. In it he discusses his visual impairment and how it has affected his photographic style.
A couple months back I mentioned that I was asked to make a video for an upcoming exhibition at the Mississippi Museum of Art of Oraien Catledge’s Cabbagetown photographs. I just finished this video and will post a couple segments from it in the coming months.
In this segment, Catledge mentions that, from very early on in his work in Cabbagetown, he brought along a video camera and would often use it in conjunction with his Leica still camera. He notes, “ I don’t have a lot of long films or anything you would call documentary at all, but just the everyday life of these people.” It’s interesting that Catledge didn’t consider his video work to be documentary. He suggests that documentary films are long (meaning, longer than a couple seconds or minutes) and are edited into some sort of structure. I feel like that is the general perception of documentary in the general public, but it need not be. Some of the very first motion pictures— called actualitiés— were often simple, short snippets of everyday life, like a baby being fed or workers demolishing a wall. A documentary photograph can capture a glimpse of everyday life, but a documentary film is supposed to provide something more, like context and commentary (as I have done with the museum video). But why can’t an archival film fragment of everyday life just stand on its own, without a scaffolding of story?
While Catledge often downplayed his filmmaking ability, the short archival clip in this segment is an amazing little actualité. The pan around the front yard captures this family just hanging out, with a mother playing patty cake and a boy being yelled at for climbing on the jungle gym. I love the little girl who moves so she can be in the shot twice and the incessant barking of the dog.
I’ve been producing videos this year for Emory’s Poets in Place project. I shot this video with Jake York back in January, and here’s the link to it on Southern Spaces. His poem is about the attack on a Freedom Rider bus outside Anniston, Alabama in May of 1961. Here is the text of the historical marker that stands where the bus was destroyed:
“On May 14, 1961, a Greyhound bus left Atlanta, GA carrying among its passengers seven members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), a.k.a. the ‘Freedom Riders,’ on a journey to test interstate bus segregation. The bus was met by an angry mob at the bus station in Anniston, AL where tires were slashed and windows broken. Upon leaving Anniston, the bus was followed by the mob to this site where the driver stopped to change the tire. The crowd set the bus on fire and attacked passengers as they departed. The incident served to strengthen the resolve for the civil rights movement.”
Click here to see the video in a larger size.
Several decades ago Col. Bruce Hampton created a bizarre cult of personality around an unassuming dude from Florida named Joe Zambie. This included the creation of a concert extravaganza called Zambiland, which began in Colorado and then migrated to Atlanta in the late 90s. Zambiland often devolved into jamband noodling but, at its best, was inspired and hilarious lunacy. The “conductor” of the Zambiland orchestra was Ricky Keller, a great musician, producer and all-around guy who unfortunately passed away in 2003. I videotaped some of the Zambiland shows (along with Hibbotte) and here is a snippet of Ricky conducting the orchestra in December 2000.
This is the last in the series of four videos that Drew Kane and I produced for the upcoming CNU conference, and it focuses on the high density sections of Midtown along Peachtree and Piedmont. Thanks to Shannon Powell from the Midtown Alliance for providing insights about Midtown’s development history and for highlighting some of the Alliance’s various initiatives over the past decade.
As I said in a previous post, I think it would be valuable to produce a whole bunch of these Atlanta neighborhood video vignettes. These could be for both Atlantans and non-Atlantans, and the focus wouldn’t have to be just on development issues but could include historical, cultural, and environmental aspects as well. Perhaps the Chamber of Commerce could use these for promotional purposes, the Beltline organization could use them to highlight the forty-five neighborhoods along the path, or maybe they could simply be valuable as snapshots of particular places at a moment in time. I’m not well versed in the ways of grants or fundraising, but if anyone has any ideas about this, let me know.
Happy Cinco de Mayo.
If you went to the 420 Fest in Candler Park last weekend or plan on going to the Inman Park Festival this coming weekend, you should be aware that these intown neighborhoods would have been a lot different had the initial vision of Freedom Parkway been realized. The plan for the road that Jimmy Carter and Andrew Young backed would have extended past Moreland, had seven bridges, and wiped out the Olmsted parks along Ponce de Leon Avenue. The intown neighborhoods galvanized against the Ex-Pres Way, as they called it, and formed a legal and an activist group to halt the clearing and construction for the road. In 1991, ten years after the fight initially began, the city, the Georgia Department of Transportation, and the intown neighborhoods reached a settlement that included a two-lane parkway that ends at Moreland and the vision for green spaces connected by a bike-jog path.
In this segment, we interviewed Cathy Bradshaw, a long-time resident and advocate for Inman Park, one of the main neighborhoods affected by Freedom Parkway. Cathy provides a brief introduction to the neighborhood and then discusses the long fight over the road. If you appreciate the green spaces of Freedom Park and the quality of life in Inman and Candler Park, remember to thank passionate residents like Cathy who worked hard to fight the road and preserve Atlanta’s intown neighborhoods.
In the second video in this series, the focus is on the Virginia Highland neighborhood of Atlanta. We interviewed Pamela Papner, the current President of the VAHI Civic Association, and she discusses some of the neighborhood’s recent development issues, including the drafting of new zoning regulations and the Association’s purchase and transformation of an empty lot into a new park.
The Congress for the New Urbanism conference will be held this year in Atlanta between May 19-22. David Byrne is one of the featured speakers. My friend Drew Kane volunteered for the conference to help them build out some content for their website and asked me to help produce some videos about Atlanta that might interest the CNU participants. Drew’s idea was to produce video vignettes about a few intown Atlanta neighborhoods. The segments would provide introductory information about the neighborhoods and their various development issues over the years. The title of our series is a nod to the recurring segment on The Colbert Report.
We are producing four of these videos and will roll them out over the next six weeks or so. Beyond these four, we’d love to get some funding to produce more videos about other Atlanta neighborhoods. If you have any ideas about how to fund this longer range project, let me know.
The first segment in this series focuses on the Old Fourth Ward. We interviewed O4W resident and Atlanta City Councilmember Kwanza Hall, and he discusses the neighborhood’s multicultural history, the O4W development efforts led by Coretta Scott King, and the vision for the community for the next fifty years.
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.