Time Wearing Out Memory
Steve Gross & Susan Daley
THERE IS, of course, a myriad of alternatives in between, but the traditional American barn-dance communities and the vernacular architecture - much of it historic in American terms - that go had in hand together, are an endangered species.
Steve Gross and Susan Daley have documented the rapidly disappearing buildings of Schoharie County - a long established farming community in New York State. The collapsing, empty and derelict houses, cabin and shacks, have a quiet dignity about them - imbued with the spirit and God fearing honesty of past inhabitants for whom they represented a valued home. It’s a bit like seeing a deserted and forlorn Teddy Bear dumped on a waste ground. These buildings are not skeletons. They have relics of ancient cars in the long grass - models not seen since before the War. They have strangely touching attempts at grandeur - Neo -Grecian pediments and columns around front doors and adorning the backwoods church. Peeling wallpapers, once lovingly saved for and selected with pride (as opposed to the more familiar newspaper pasted onto the wall); glasses, cups, chairs and other artefacts dotted around the old iron stoves - too heavy to remove.
The authors poignantly give a list of page numbers that illustrate buildings photographed for this book which have already disappeared completely. The one surprise is that - in this age of DIY and affluence - why a lot of these highly attractive relics have not been snapped up by the New York chic elite and renovated for weekend cabins and holiday getaways.
With excellent production values, as expected from Norton, this strangely emotional and sad book is indicative of a new genre of photography coming out of the USA at the moment. One where artists have suddenly awoken to the silent drama that is happening just outside their own city limits - and down the road a piece…