One Place: Paul Kwilecki and Four Decades of Photographs from Decatur County, Georgia

Paul Kwilecki, Author, Tom Rankin, Author
Paul Kwilecki, edited by Tom Rankin and Iris Tillman Hill. Univ. of North Carolina, $45 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4696-0740-5
Hardcover - 255 pages - 978-1-4696-0743-6
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This impressive career-spanning collection of over 200 black-and-white photos (published in association with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University) represents Kwilecki’s four-decade attempt (until his death in 2009) to portray the nuances of his hometown of Bainbridge, Ga., where he ran the family hardware store. Kwilecki (Understandings: Photographs of Decatur County) succeeded in his efforts to create a magnificent microcosm. Whatever his focus is at a given moment—portraits of manual laborers, documenting the joy of a courthouse wedding, or ruminating on cemeteries—he clearly wished to account for all of life’s flavors. The book includes generous excerpts from Kwilecki’s thoughtful writing about his own process and the people he encountered. In addition to his thoughts on art, Kwilecki describes his ground game as a documentarian. In conveying an attempt to chronicle “the worst slum in town,” filled with crude shacks and broken-down cars, he writes that one day “a big woman was leaning on her porch railing.... I stopped, grabbed a camera, said nothing, took six or eight shots standing right in front of her... [and] drove away.” The resulting portrait depicts a foreboding woman whose size fills the entire frame and whose gaze is like a bull deciding whether to charge. Overall, he gives dignity and grace to the predominantly working-class community. (Mar.)
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