collage by nacrowe
when i look at the photography of WILLIAM EGGLESTON it reminds me of an AMERICA rarely noticed, not the skyscrapers, monuments and public buildings that have contrived meaning loaded into them, but the mundane and ordinary. a version of AMERICA that is stripped back of pretense and showcases the dignity of middle class exurban landscape of roads, storefronts, living rooms, restaurants and people making their way through life.
there seems to be a real problem in our culture where people look down on those that make a blue-collar living through manual labor, instead placing value and focusing our attention on the superficial "keeping up with the joneses" goals of mass consumerism. when i was in MANDALAY (MYANMAR) and you got up early enough, usually around dawn, and made your way across the river to the hilltop BUDDHIST temples of nearby SAGAING there was a good chance you would see lines of male and female monks seeking alms for the day. their one daily meal which consisted wholeheartedly of food donated by their neighbors. in the BUDDHIST worldview, allowing these monks to follow their spiritual path outside the framework of commerce was a gift with merit by their supporters. the fact that MYANMAR is a severely poor nation only goes to show how dear this daily gift is to the local community. there is a dignity in their spiritual work and those supporting it are likewise elevated.
we have none of that in the UNITED STATES. we have a zero sum mentality with clearly defined winner and losers. when i see the work of EGGLESTON, i am reminded that there is a beauty and dignity in work and the ordinary lives of everyday AMERICANS, even if our bloated culture and body politic refuse to acknowledge such.
his work is a celebration of it.