Rejected Images of the Farm Security Administration.
By William E. Jones.
PPP Editions, 2010.
157 black & white illustrations, 12¼x9¼".
Killed reproduces a suite of 157 images “killed” by Roy Stryker, director of the FSA, and are organized alphabetically by photographer: Walker Evans, Theodor Jung, Carl Mydans, Marion Post Wolcott, Arthur Rothstein, Ben Shahn and John Vachon. Alongside these images, Jones includes a selection from John Collier, Jr., Russell Lee and David Myers that illustrate possible evidence of homosexuality within the main stream. He states: “Many (perhaps even most) viewers would find in the archive not a trace of homosexuality, but I refused to believe that it was completely absent from the visual record of the Great Depression. An historical queer presence must have been documented, if only unconsciously or accidentally, by the photographers of the FSA.”
“Puncture Wounds” the first of two critical essays Jones has contributed to the book discusses the Library of Congress’s image archive that began as the Resettlement Administration (1935-37), the Farm Security Administration (1937-42), and then the Office of War Information (1942-44) and he hypothesizes on what motivated Stryker to kill certain negatives; though he emphasizes: “More pertinent to the subject of this book, the practice of socially committed documentary photography has fallen into disfavor at an historical moment when it is needed again…we don’t even know we are in a depression, because no one has given us an image of it…” In his second essay “Perversion” Jones advocates reinterpreting history utilizing publicly accessible image archives, in essence perverting them, since “they have become so encrusted with conventional pieties that we can hardly see them any longer…(the FSA collection)…is not a memorial or a temple with dogma for us to obey, but a site for reinvention.”
'Jones mined modern photojournalism's veritable garden of eden, the FSA archives, and came out with the photographs in Killed — images rejected by the FSA Information Division founder and chief Roy Stryker. When Stryker chose to exercise his editorial will, he did so by punching a hole through the negative, sometimes with an almost apologetic tone, often with a strange ferocity and laissez-faire censorship. These photographs were initially presented by Jones as a film work titled Punctured. An avid critic and veracious essayist, Jones' accompanying texts are an insightful interpretation of the work included, and on the nature and ethics of the photographic archive. Killed presents 157 images organized by photographer, and includes images from the FSA which depict homosexuality — the impetus for Jones' original interest in the FSA collection. '- Daniel Espeset from photo-eye Newsletter
Read Sarah Bradley's photo-eye Blog post on Killed here.