"Driftless is Frazier’s document about rural Iowa. His home. It makes me think that this “BOY” has never gone away from home. Years of working, walking, photographing, carefully making notes, names, places./.../Frazier’s work will survive—his book will be the foundation for more to come. . . "
Those are words by the legendary photographer Robert Frank from his foreword to the book "Driftless" by photographer Danny Wilcox Frazier.
Robert Frank’s book The Americans (1958) marked a turning point in photography. He has received numerous awards, including the Hasselblad Foundation Award in 1996
But let us listen to Danny explain about his work:
”While driving along endless gravel roads that crisscross the Midwest’s rural landscape, the feeling of openness that so defines country life has been replaced by an oppressive emptiness. An economic shift throughout America has left many rural communities stalled, remnants of time past.
Those left in the wake of out-migration have few opportunities, while services like education and healthcare are consolidated in zones of urban sprawl. This project explores the people of these forgotten places, casualties of an economic divide that separates rural and metropolitan classes.
Ultimately, many rural communities across the Midwest will die. In some ways the photographs I have made simply document that process, preserving many aspects of rural culture that might otherwise be forgotten.
My photographs from Iowa show the strength and determination of those committed to maintaining their rural way of life. I identify with the subjects of these images and work to explore the nuances of their collective plight. My passion for rural issues is not just academic – this interest stems from my own upbringing. I was raised in Le Claire, Iowa, a small town that sits along the Mississippi River.
This project documents the human effect of the economic shift occurring throughout the rural Midwest. My hope is that it will help bring much needed attention to this unseen issue that resides in America’s heartland. Rural life has always been difficult, but now more than ever, it appears unsustainable." - Danny Wilcox Frazier
Over the past five years, Danny Wilcox Frazier has photographed people struggling to survive the economic shift that has devastated rural communities across Iowa. The project was started during his graduate studies at the University of Iowa, where he also taught photography while completing his master’s degree. Frazier's clients have included TIME, Life, Mother Jones, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, People, Fortune, Der Spiegel and the Washington Post Magazine.
This body of work was awarded the 2007 Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize and was published by Duke University Press and CDS in November of 2007. Robert Frank selected this work for the prize.
Danny says: "Having grown up in a small town that sits along the banks of the Mississippi River, my first opportunity to travel abroad came shortly after finishing my undergraduate studies. My wife and I moved to Nairobi, Kenya and I began my career as a photographer. Since living in East Africa, my foreign assignments have taken me to Afghanistan, India, Cuba, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Kosovo and Mexico. Upon returning to the United States, I worked for small daily newspapers, learning as much as possible about journalism and story telling over six years."
I am happy to see Danny participate as a guest on the F Blog. His photography has an intention, he speaks of his people and their everyday life and I find that touch of magic in his photos that make them stay with you for a long time.
Text and photos © Danny Wilcox Frazier
Have a look at his portofolio at Reduxpixtures
invited by ulf fågelhammar
TO BE CONTINUED....