I wanted to see what visitors could add to the exhibition by way of facts and observations. I added information myself by laying out printouts as a catalyst for conversation. These were Interviews with the photographers, reviews of previous shows and articles about print processes, Federal Writers' Project and the Farm Security Administration.
There was a lot of interest in print processes. All the images in the exhibition are made on film but then printed using either analogue (C-Type, Dye Transfer) or digital processes affecting the image in subtle but relevant ways. I had an interesting chat about the Walker Evans prints with a visitor from London whose most treasured possession is a print by W. Eugene Smith.
Some of the observations and facts from visitors:
There are no trailer parks/homes in this exhibition
The cloud that looks like an angel - Alec Soth's Bonnie (with a photograph of an angel), Port Gibson, Mississippi, 2000 - is called a simulacra... but also a 'slyth' or a 'slyfth' I think - common on webpages, also thinking about 'chemtrails'.
The tree in the Alec Soth picture (Holt cemetery, New Orleans , Louisiana 2002) - they're also in Florida, we call them 'spooky trees'. The light bulbs in his pictures are all switched on (even outside Johnny Cash's boyhood home in daylight).
Eggleston's pictures have been used on albums by Big Star (Red Ceiling, Greenwood, Mississippi) and Primal Scream.
Federal Writers' Project slave narrative collection - more people are in slavery worldwide now than then (heard on radio 4 but not written down as washing up).
From a Walker Evans photograph - there was 7up in the thirties.
Susan Lipper - there's a pistol in the belt of the 'blowback man'. Hanging a deer - seen that in Robertsbridge.
William Christenberry (green barn photographed over 31 years) - no graffiti at all!
Everyone I spoke to over a 3 hour period was very positive about this exhibition. The disapproval that greeted Eggleston's work in the 1970's would seem to be unusual now. People do really enjoy thoughtful, often quiet, photographs of everyday life.