This Train Is Bound for Glory.
Photographs by Justine Kurland. Text by William T. Vollmann and Jonathan Raymond.
Estatic Peace Library, 2010. 132 pp., 60 color illustrations, 10x8".
“For the past ten years I have lived alone, criss-crossing the
United States in search of willing subjects to photograph,”
writes Justine Kurland (born 1969) in the introduction to her
first collection in several years. Here, Kurland, internationally
admired for her painterly photographs of female groups in
Arcadian landscapes, explores and records the still-thriving
subculture of the freight-hopping hobo. Her beautifully composed
images of trains, train-jumpers and young refuseniks
who exist far beyond workaday society, taken while journeying
alongside them, allude to an American hobo narrative that
harks back to the early days of the railroad, into the Great
Depression and through the VietnamWar. Kurland’s vision of
this ongoing tradition is, gloriously, a utopian one:“We who
are brave enough (or stupid enough) to become explorers
today,when all available land has been conquered and occupied,
can still be... the builders of a new world and a new consciousness.”
A signed and numbered limited edition, This Train
is Bound for Glory presents 50 color photographs that document
her exploration of the modern steel lines that crisscross
the American landscape, and the trails of the hobos who follow
in the footsteps of such American folk heroes asWoody
Guthrie,whose classic tune “This Train is Bound for Glory”
includes the lines “Don’t carry nothing but the righteous and
the holy” and “She’s streamlined and a midnight flyer.”
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