MIGRANT FATHER

Migrant Father, June 1938, by Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange’s extended caption:

Old time professional migratory laborer camping on the outskirts of Perryton; Texas at opening of wheat harvest. With his wife and growing family; he has been on the road since marriage; thirteen years ago. Migrations include ranch land in Texas; cotton and wheat in Texas; cotton and timber in New Mexico; peas and potatoes in Idaho; wheat in Colorado; hops and apples in Yakima Valley; Washington; cotton in Arizona. He wants to buy a little place in Idaho

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CROPDUSTER

Cropduster by ©Charles O’Rear, DOCUMERICA/NARA

 

The DOCUMERICA project was created in 1972 and its Director, Gifford Hampshire, tried to recreate the all-encompassing visual story of America that Roy Stryker began in 1936 with the Farm Security Administration project that told the story of the Depression and, more generally, the story of America as it struggled through the Depression and then toward the end in 1939, told the story of a strong America, preparing for war.

Charles O’Rear was one of the notable photographers for DOCUMERICA. For more about him, including the story of how he created Bliss (the iconic Microsoft screen image) view: https://youtu.be/_G5Z8aMctBw

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WELCOME TO AMERICA AND ALL THAT GAS

Bracero fumigatio, Leonard Nadal

Bracero workers being fumigated, 1956,
Photograph by Leonard Nadel, NMAH,
History of Technology Collections,

Photo by Leonard Nadel

Editor’s Note: The Bracero program addressed the issue of demand for labor and the need for work. It was a cooperative program that allowed America’s work needs to utilize the need  of Mexico’s workers’ need for employment. It was legal, it was effective and it was a clear win-win program. Therefore it did not last. Too logical. And here we are now, 52 years later, with America needing workers, Mexicans needing employment and total chaos at the border. One could ask, is this chaos or planned exploitation?

Here is a mini-history of the Bracero Program. Let the discussion begin.

Text by Smithsonian National Museum of American History The Bracero program (1942 through 1964) allowed Mexican nationals to take temporary agricultural work in the United States. Over the program’s 22-year life, more than 4.5 million Mexican nationals were legally contracted for work in the United States (some individuals returned several times on different contracts). Mexican peasants, desperate for cash work, were willing to take jobs at wages scorned by most Americans. The Braceros’ presence had a significant effect on the business of farming and the culture of the United States. The Bracero program fed the circular migration patterns of Mexicans into the U.S.

Several groups concerned over the exploitation of Bracero workers tried to repeal the program. The Fund for the Republic supported Ernesto Galarza’s documentation of the social costs of the Bracero program. Unhappy with the lackluster public response to his report, Strangers in Our Fields, the fund hired magazine photographer Leonard Nadel to produce a glossy picture-story exposé.

Presented here is a selection of Nadel’s photographs of Bracero workers taken in 1956: shttp://s.si.edu/1gRD3VJ for Nadel’s photographs and other resources.

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LANGE AND HER TRANSCRIBED TEXT

Dorothea Lange and the Walkers “Toward Los Angeles.”California,

March 1937 by Dorothea Lange for FSA

 “Next Time Try The Train– Relax.”  

Lange captioned this with the walkers own words: “Well– give me the fare and I will, buddy.  We ain’t walkin’ for our health…”

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MIGRATION 30s STYLE

Dorothea Lange "Ten Children"

Ten Children, March 1937, by Dorothea Lange,
for the RA (courtesy of OMCA)

Text by Bruce Berman
Migrants looking for work goes back the very beginning of America, from the English/Europeans at Jamestown and beyond. One could arguably say that “Native Americans” descended from migrants from China, coming across the Bering land bridge.
In Lange’s era, as the economic Depression of the 1930s deepened and the ecological disasters of drought and erosion progressed there was a massive infra-country migration, primarily from the Great Plains and Texas/Oklahoma, mostly heading west to California.
This migration was heavily documented by the FSA and by others.
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The Funklands

The Funklands are where you find them, and, when.

Bruce Berman started this project when he was in his early 20s, in the 1970s, and just starting out in photography. He cruised the highways and the low-ways of America, no particular agenda, stopping often (to the consternation of those driving with him), always looking for the funk, the detritus of other eras, the iconography of his youth and the times before him.

This America is now almost gone. It hangs over bars in places like Austin or Madison, Los Angeles or Chicago. The Funklands have turned into “Fly Over” territory, still there, still quasi rural, but  now, unrobed. The structure of the Funklands, textured, bold, spectacular, has been replaced by franchised plastic, flatness, sameness.

We celebrate corporate identity in the iconography of now, not roosters and skeletons and old Cadillacs.

The Funk has turned from delight to nothingness. Occasionally  there is a McDonald’s that riffs on a local theme, but pretty much not.

The Funk is hard to find.

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IMAGES FROM THE FSA ROAD

Okies on the road
Okies on U.S. 66, March 1937
by Dorothea Lange

 

Text  by Bruce Berman

All Commentary (definitely) Subjective

 

The Farm Security Administration (FSA) started out to show government programs to the taxpaying public, to gain support for the New Deal agriculture initiatives of the Resettlement Administration (RA). From mid 1936 to late 1939 it did that but in the doing it found itself -pushed by the hand of its Director, Roy Stryker- documenting “American Life.”

The beginning of the FSA concentrated on the devastation of people and land of the agrarian sector but, as time went on, it broadened its image-making to include the way all Americans lived and worked.

The America of the 1930s is still out there, in the backlands, far away from the eyes of urban America. In fact, if one only learned of the interior of America from the mainstream media (all situated in urban America) one could not know that the America of the 1930s FSA is ongoing, alive, and functioning.

These images are a sample from the FSA road, a road I travel often, now, in 2015, seventy nine years after the creation of the FSA and their portrayal of America.

Then as now it is typified by open space, graphic simplicity and, agriculture and a sense of order now uncommon in urban America.

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Little House on Wheels In New Mexico

Van and palms, Las Cruces, New Mexico, 2015
Van and palms, Las Cruces, New Mexico, 2015

Text and Photograph by Bruce Berman

Funk.

There’s a little left.

The era of funk is passing.

What’s left is either pure decay or rot from an era of plastic, synthetics and lack of design distinction.

What would you rather see, a decaying car from the 40s, 50’s or 60s or a decaying anything from afterwards? Afterwards it’s just junk that was of little endearment before it fell into disuse.

Besides, the stuff from the post war era is almost gone, all hung up in bars in places like Austin, Portland, Cincinnati, Boca Raton and Chicago.

Authentic ruin is hard to come by. It’s a good investment for those who aspire to never ever actually live with it.

The “backlands” of the USA are either redeveloped or falling into unlivable ruin.

There are people in there, by choice or circumstance.

My next era of work will be an exploration of Authentic Ruin in the Backlands.

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Street Guys and Old Glory

Kimball the American, El Paso, Texas, by Bruce Berman

Commentary by Bruce Berman, Editor

Why is it the street guys not only aren’t shy about flying “Old Glory,” but are vigorous in telling you why they love it? Compare this to any college campus. Not only can you not find a glimpse of the Stars and Stripes, there are numerous organizations that want it -or anything it represents….like the military- anywhere near it.

Is a puzzlement or is it an insight?

Perhaps, as we look at the condition of the country and the rumors of its demise, we need to start looking to the streets for some answers, not to the walls of academe.

Viva Kimball.

 

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Ami Vitale; Beauty, Power, Life

Hungary Baths by Amy Vitale©2011

From Ami Vitale’s website (http://www.amivitale.com):

Ami Vitale’s journey as a photojournalist has taken her to more than 75 countries. She has witnessed civil unrest, poverty, destruction of life, and unspeakable violence. But she has also experienced surreal beauty and the enduring power of the human spirit, and she is committed to highlighting the surprising and subtle similarities between cultures. Her photographs have been

exhibited around the world in museums and galleries and published in international magazines including National Geographic, Adventure, Geo,  Newsweek, Time, Smithsonian. Her work has garnered multiple awards from prestigious organizations including World Press Photos, the Lowell Thomas Award for Travel Journalism, Lucie awards, the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding Reporting, and the Magazine Photographer of the Year award,  among many others.

Now based in Montana, Vitale is a contract photographer with National Geographic magazine and frequently gives workshops throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. She is also making a documentary film on migration in Bangladesh and writing a book about the stories behind the images.

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Andrea Bruce Shoots You In The Heart

Ingushetia by Andrea Bruce

Andrea Bruce is a passionate, stylish, skilled documentary photography who’s images -in the best traditions of still photography- sear your soul and drive their point through your heart, restoring it instead of terminating it. She is the new breed of documentary photographer that blends all the skills of good journalism with all the skills of great graphic image-making and produces a coctail that is nothing less than photo alchemy.

Take a look: http://www.andreabruce.com

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Vote

BruceDavidson_

“Vote,” Selma Voting Rights March, 1965

©Bruce Davidson

Sometimes we forget that the “Big Work,” the work that one becomes known for making isn’t all there is.

Bruce Davidson went south, from Chicago, on  instinct.

The world was shaking and he felt the vibe.

The time was now: Civil Rights.

Real change.

Without assignment or specific destination he “nailed it,” and was able to work on the edges of the news, tell the story from a personal and deeply intimate viewpoint.

This image, for me, is one his best. Beautiful composition. Beatiful moment. Beautiful storyline. Iconic and packed with all the elements that make it a novel unto itself,  if this was the only photography that existed from the era it was shot in, it would, I think, be enough to tell the story of the struggle.

One word and one image: sometimes it’s enough: Vote.

For More on Bruce Davidson: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Davidson_(photographer)

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Victor Sera: Uprooted

Victor Sera

©Victor Sera

GO TO: http://www.fiftycrows.org/index.php#mi=2&pt=1&pi=10000&s=1&a=7&p=0&at=3

This is a photo essay on the lives of the undocumented as they navigate between their homes and their country chosen for work.

In some ways the “landscape,” of this document has changed since it was photographed in the 1990’s. The immigration interdiction efforts by the United States has reduced the number of migrants and, more recently, the lack of jobs in the U.S. due to the faltering economy has reduced it even further. The personal plight for migrants in the U.S. has changed for the worse, making any return to the mother country impossible due to the danger of the return journey.

This document, however, is still quite valid. The existential delemna of home and heart weighed against stomach and uprootedness is ongoing, worldwide and, as this work shows, problematic.

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Displacement In The “Heartland”

picture-3

SEE: http://mediastorm.org/0023.htm

A documentary project on Displacement…in the “Heartland!

This photographer shows how “progress,” comes to everywhere and the displacement is not limited to indigenous people either. In the end it is the interests of Capital weighed against the interests of Labor that is the issue of land appropriation and displacement.

Let this documentary speak for itself.

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