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Michael von Graffenried: Our Town
Text by Michael von Graffenried.
A proud document of a North Carolina community and an empathetic call for increased integration and understanding at a decisive moment in American history
New Bern is a small city in North Carolina with a population of 30,000, conspicuously composed of 55% white and 33% Black citizens. It was here in 1710 that Christoph von Graffenried of Bern, Switzerland, first began building houses; the fledgling town took on the name of his native city. Taken over a period of 15 years, von Graffenried’s photos are patient images of everyday life: a Black church congregation, young white girls at rifle practice; Black men exchanging cash on the street, a white couple displaying their collection of firearms; a Black female stripper performing for a white man.
In June 2020, following the killing of George Floyd, the largest demonstration New Bern had ever seen took place, parallel to many Black Lives Matter protests throughout the country and marking the first time the issue of race relations had been thus proclaimed in the city. This volume maps the contradictions embodied by New Bern.
Featured image is reproduced from ‘Michael von Graffenried: Our Town'.
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
Our Town, published by Steidl, plunges us into an ordinary day-to-day life. Yet, as Michael von Graffenried’s panoramic images unfold, we are overcome with a strange impression: the city of 30,000 inhabitants is more than 30% black, but the pictures show very little diversity.
L'Oeil de la Photographie
Von Graffenried’s Our Town is a both a proud document of a community and an empathetic call for increased integration and understanding at a decisive moment in American history.
Photographer Michael von Graffenried made a series of four trips to New Bern to create a series of panoramic images over a 15-year period. The result is an empathetic call for increased integration and understanding at a pivotal moment in American history.
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Pub Date: 6/29/2021
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