Over at my other gig I was lucky enough to chat with award-winning photojournalist Peter van Agtmael about his latest book, Buzzing at the Sill, which sports dozens of fascinating images of American culture that may shock some, if only because the images have become all too common for many.
And what a collection it is; Peter’s artful camera work showcases as diverse a cross-section of middle America as you’re likely to see, a group linked tangentially through their mutual sharing of decay; once-proud areas of industry, inadequate shelters, the crippling effects of poverty, and even the last gasps of misguided nationalistic pride.
These are people who seldom make headlines, unless scorned or via humiliating mockery. Yet, they exist, and have tremendous power when sufficiently motivated or agitated to call upon it.
It would be disappointing if reviews and analysis were only to focus on the aesthetics and surface-level assumptions of Peter’s collection; the linear notes are required reading to fully understand what’s being documented in them (to wit: the white patrons playing billiards in what turns out to be a black “Juke Joint”). As with most things, looks can be deceiving, and while I’m not entirely sure if Peter shared my fear that certain types may find his photos ripe for exploitation, I’ve seen evidence of this already happening.
On promotion: Peter asked I give a link to his official website, and not Amazon’s profit-gobbling, to help guide readers to pick up a copy of Buzzing at the Sill. No arguments here, so by all means pick up your own copy – or copies! – of it and his other works right HERE!
Managing editor (Popzara), frequent radio guest/producer, enemy of stupidity, all-purpose survivor.