|Bartley West Virginia Coal Miners Memorial|
I am disappointed when I look at coal town photography geared towards the perspective of the average American who has by and large NEVER been to a coal town, or really any industrial town. The images are almost always a pic of a man, or several men emerging from a coal mine, covered in coal dust and carrying their dinner bucket. That's vital, BUT thats also where the average American has flash frozen the coal town. Its one dimension. One small idiom, and it invites the usual discourse.
The hipster, the cool person who thrives on the genre of industrial decay, music or photos, provides the real fix. Hey, its a company town.....Photos are an explosion of stark black and whites, apathy, decay, an out of control spiral that is only made silent by a bulldozer, in these places, these "similiar" places, they seek an answer to the morbidly curious, LOOK AT WHAT was LEFT BEHIND.
|Bartley Tipple Bottom, Bartley West Virginia|
There is no flesh, no life, no death, its just a post industrial hibernation.......I detest this. Its not by intention. MOST people crave the ability to categorize. It brings comfort. NOT only can a person create control, they can create knowledge...Its easy, its natural and its also false.
I decided in 2003 to start easy. I went back to my Moms coal town. Whitby, West Virginia. I played there many many Summers, I LOVED IT. THEN, the big buzz kill. Its not that the coal industry was gonna croak, I knew that. Its NOT the fact that you cant go home again, I knew that. It was the literal death of a place I knew. The death was not so hard, honestly, compared to the attitudes I encountered afterwards. People NEED to look at any one place, in this instance a coal town, and just "know" what it was.......
11 years later, I try to challenge that with the photographs I take. I am asking not to look at what is, or what was...I am asking: What could have been here? Who were they? How many? How much? How did they play, or die, or worship?........It is now time to show people just how different each place really was...Come by and look.......Each of these places is an invitation.
|Boissevain VA, Pocahontas Fuel Company Store|