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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Oxford Project

Peter Feldstein's Oxford Project is one of those fascinating explorations over the course of time that photography seems particularly well-suited for. He essentially did for the residents of Oxford, Iowa, what Mark Klett and the other members of the Rephotographic Survey Project did a couple of decades ago for the American West. The results are predictably fascinating, tracing the arc of a number of lives in words and pictures over a span of several decades. According to the website:

"In the spring and summer of 1984, Peter Feldstein used a red marker to make a sign announcing that he wanted to take free portraits of everyone in Oxford, Iowa (pop. 673). Like a kid at a lemonade stand, Peter set up shop on Augusta Street, Oxford's main street.

"That first day, nobody came by. In the next few days, Peter's only customers were students on their way from school. On Memorial Day, Peter photographed Al Sheets, a member of the American Legion, and when Al went to the Legion hall, he brought back 75 Legionnaires.
The project took off from there. When Peter was finished, he had photographed 670 Oxford residents.

"Peter didn't pose anyone. Nobody did anything out of the ordinary, like jumping or doing handstands—except Clarence Schropp, who wore his wife's wig, and Calvin Colony, who brought his 300-pound pet lion.

"Twenty-one years later, Peter set up his camera again...."

Only a small portion of the work is online, but still, it's worth spending some time with. (There's also an ABC News video.)

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON with thanks to Stanco


Blogger Scott Kirkpatrick said...

A tantalizing fragment. Given the current election results, some of the quotes were prescient. I wanted to see the 300-lb lion, but I guess he wasn't still living in Oxford 21 years later.


4:20 PM  
Blogger gravitas et nugalis said...

Great stuff - the photography doesn't knock me out but it is straightfoward and honest.

Of the triptychs displayed on the site, my favorite is Darrell Lindley - "I shoot 'em, bleed 'em, then skin 'em....One thing I do, if kids are around is I cut out the eye (it's a little smaller than a golf ball), and I swish it around my mouth. The kids can't believe that."

I believe it, so inquired about purchasing a print. $1200 for a 24 x 30" (Image area=11 x 26.5") up to $7200 for a 72 x 126".

Think I'll wait for the book (fall 2008)

1:01 PM  

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