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Birney Imes
Mississippi

Artist Statement Submitted 2018

For about 20 years, beginning in the mid-1970s, I roamed the back roads of
Mississippi photographing rural African-American culture. Iā€™d grown up in the
segregated South, and this was a way to spend time ā€” and, looking at it in
retrospect, a way to make peace in a small way ā€” with this heretofore
forbidden world.
In the spring of 1983 I began a series of color photographs of country juke
joints. Before that, I had been riding the back roads making pictures with black-and-white film in a roll film camera.
Though my work is sometimes labeled documentary, I never saw it as such.
Certainly, I never approached it in any systematic way. Mostly, the pictures are
the result of leisurely visits, attempts to wrest something beautiful from
encounters with a culture and people I found beautiful, gracious and, at times,
exotic.

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