| || |
Gillian Laub: Southern Rites
Southern Rites is an original and provocative 12-year visual study of one community's struggle to confront longstanding issues of race and equality.
In May 2009, the New York Times Magazine published a photo-essay by Gillian Laub entitled "A Prom Divided," which documented Georgia's Montgomery County High School's racially segregated prom rituals. Laub's photographs ignited a firestorm of national outrage and led the community to finally integrate. One year later, there was newfound hope--a historic campaign to elect the county's first African American sheriff. But the murder of a young black man--portrayed in Laub's earlier prom series--by a white town patriarch reopened old wounds.
Through her intimate portraits and firsthand testimony, Laub reveals in vivid color the horror and humanity of these complex, intertwined narratives. The photographer's inimitable sensibility--it is the essence and emotional truth of the singular person in front of her lens that matters most--ensures that, however elevated the ideas and themes may be, her pictures remain studies of individuals; a chronicle of their courage in the face of injustice, of their suffering and redemption, possessing an unsettling power.
Gillian Laub (born 1975) crafts striking personal portraits, whether she is photographing her own family in Mamaroneck, New York, or victims of violence in the Middle East. In May 2015, the documentary Southern Rites--Laub's directorial debut--will premiere on HBO, examining the aftermath of the publication of Laub's photographs of Montgomery County and her own role in the events.
Featured image, "Couples arriving at the integrated prom, 2011", is reproduced from Southern Rites.
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
Southern Rites...explores racial issues and tension that are deeply rooted in the area.
Laub was able to photograph the 2011 and 2012 integrated proms at Montgomery County High, and the photos... trace the evolution of the iconic high school event in this corner of the South.
In Southern Rites, Laub has perceptively and empathetically portrayed the individuals behind the events in Mount Vernon. In turn, our understanding of these events becomes nuanced in a way that may be useful when considering the larger, enduring problem of racism in the U.S. Southern Rites isan important and timely documentary, demanding the viewer to look and listen in a way that lingers long after the gowns, tuxes, and corsages have been put away.
Laub’s work also proffers a tantalizing hope: that through such American high schoolers, bedazzled in sequins and satin and dancing at their only recently integrated prom, true societal transformation and justice may come.
The Midwest Bookreview
James A. Cox
Powerful images augmented with an informative and inherently fascinating commentary make "Gillian Laub: Southern Rites" a critically important contribution...Indeed, "Gillian Laub: Southern Rites" could well serve as a template for similar photographic studies of other American communities and social issues.
Laub’s intimate portraits...speak to pride, suffering, anger, and love.
In addition to showcasing her nuanced photographs, [Southern Rites] uses artifacts, letters, transcripts, and narrative to further illuminate the story of a community rife with injustice, complicity, and occasionally some hope as well.
Laub’s portraits of the people she met and the stories they told is an eye-opener for our “post-racial’ society and the dimension this recounting brings to the conversation is nuanced and real.
[In Gillian Laub: Southern Rites], a look at one school's segregated prom...bec[omes] so much more as the nation looks to Georgia
FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 5/18/2015
Tonight at 9PM, HBO debuts Southern Rites, Gillian Laub's film documenting one community's struggle to confront longstanding issues of race and equality. Produced by Grammy, Oscar, and Golden Globe–winning musician John Legend, Southern Rites is based on Laub's forthcoming photo book, published by Damiani.
continue to blog
FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 6/29/2015
In Southern Rites, photographer Gillian Laub's provocative 12-year visual study of Mount Vernon, Georgia's struggle to confront longstanding issues of race and equality, Keyke Burns is quoted on the issue of segregated proms: "Every year there’s like one mixed couple and they are always welcome at our prom. But there’s no way Siarria was allowed to take Kent to the white prom. White girls can be friends with black boys, but if they have relationship with a black guy they’ll be disowned or their car will be taken away. A girl in my grade had just gotten a new car her senior year. Her momma kept coming to my daddy because he’s the police chief, asking him to keep her away from this black dude’s house. My daddy was like, ‘Well she’s eighteen, you can’t make her come home, you can’t control who she dates, you can’t call the police on her anymore. She’s grown now.’ This girl got her car taken away and kicked out of the house. She is on her own now with no money, no car. I think that’s what scares people the most around here. They don’t want to lose all the privileges they get. I guess I don’t blame them. I want a nice car too." Featured image is of Siarria and Kent outside the black prom, 2008. continue to blog