Published by Steidl. Text by Vince Aletti, Kevin Moore, Duro Olowu.
This book presents previously unpublished work from Jackie Nickerson’s acclaimed Farm series. Farm was published by Random House in 2002 and features images made between 1997 and 2001 across Southern Africa. Unseen Farm is an exploration of the people working in agriculture in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa, and includes 6×7 medium-format photographs shot on film, Polaroids and contact sheets from the artist’s archive. Comparable to Walker Evans’ and James Agee’s influential account of US rural workers in the mid-1930s, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Nickerson’s vision is celebratory and non-judgmental while aware of photography’s limits in capturing the full depth of its subjects. In Edward K. Owusu-Ansah’s words: “Nickerson registers everything about her subjects in minute detail, sincerely and without commentary, allowing them to live through her lens. The result is a display of dignity amidst want, pride in labor and perseverance in spite of limited resources.”
Gathering Jackie Nickerson’s (born 1960) recent portraits of people caught in plastic and packaging materials, Field Test at once treats globalization, technology and medicine, commercialization, mass production, environmental degradation, migration, digitization, fake news and the COVID-19 pandemic.
American-born British artist Jackie Nickerson (born 1960) began photographing Zimbabwean farmworkers in 1996. Her first series of these portraits served to change the perception that those who work in African agriculture are disempowered, unmodern people by highlighting their individual personalities through their handmade clothing. Ever since, she has continued in the vein of portraiture as a tool for social awareness, with a particular emphasis on global labor practices and agriculture. Her recent series Salvage interrogates the homogeneity of the artistic conventions, such as balance, likeness, proportion and scale, that characterize the portrait genre. In contrast to these expectations, Nickerson’s photography engages both her subjects and her viewers with light, airy color palettes and nontraditional framing, sometimes obscuring her sitters’ faces to imply anonymity within a larger system or otherwise photographing them from a low angle to emphasize their authority within the image’s frame.