Wright Marion Morris is better known as an American Gothic writer than a photographer….
His photographs depict empty farms and barns in the American Midwest, principally Nebraska. In truth, I had never heard of him, but when a knowledgeable photographer recently told me that several of my North Dakota photographs were like his, I thought I had better look him up.
The best archive of his work is at the University of Arizona’s Centre for Creative Photography (CfCP) where he had a hand in how the photographs were printed. For a selection see my pinterest account.
The archive’s blurb says ‘his photographs depict everyday objects and atmosphere. (His) poetic images exist in a fictional narrative, but reference documentary style.’ I’m not sure exactly what this means since in my book fictional narrative is in a way opposite to documentary photography; but it’s got me thinking that perhaps I’m wrong on this.
Clearly the theme of his work is ‘time’ and the loss of the Midwest.
Actually the similarities are quite striking. When I look at his photographs it’s almost as if I had been there with him – that feeling.
But, you might well ask, ‘how many ways are there of taking a picture of a barn? It’s not surprising that there is some similarity’. That’s probably a little true. But I think it goes deeper than this. When I looked at his photographs for the first time I thought I had seen them before even though I hadn’t. A real case of déjà vu? Quite eerie! American Gothic even! The similarity feels deeper than resemblance of content. It has more to do with the reality that perception has for the subject, that is, me.
Of course, I’m not comparing my photography to his. I’m just pointing to something that seems deeper than content similarity.