04.04.2018

Documenting Contemporary Rural America

The beautiful photographs from the American Fair series by Pamela Littky show a different and unique face of American society

  • Documenting Contemporary Rural America
  • Documenting Contemporary Rural America
  • Documenting Contemporary Rural America
  • Documenting Contemporary Rural America
  • Documenting Contemporary Rural America
  • Documenting Contemporary Rural America
  • Documenting Contemporary Rural America
  • Documenting Contemporary Rural America
  • Documenting Contemporary Rural America
  • Documenting Contemporary Rural America

The county fair is the most ‘American’ of American traditions. For over 170 years, it has been the bedrock of American communities across the country, showcasing the power and meaning of some of the most unifying and nostalgic ideals of the American culture and society.
 
Generally held in the late summer or early fall on the outskirts of town, the fair was originally a meeting place for farmers to promote local agriculture. In the 20th century, as America shifted from an agrarian to an urban society, it expanded dramatically to include a wealth of family focused fun and entertainment, from carnival amusement rides, games, and side shows to car racing, concession stands, and musical concerts.
 
During the summer of 2015, American photographer Pamela Littky travelled across the U.S. to capture the sites of these important seasonal markers in America’s heartland. She drove thousands of miles to experience and document fairs all over the country, teeming with the people who call the surrounding area home.
 
“I have spent most of my adult life in Los Angeles, (where) the one thing that seems lacking is a true sense of ‘community’ — a feeling of connection among its diverse and unique populations”, Pamela said.
 
What she discovered is that the essence of the American fair has not changed very much over the past century. While the social and cultural fabric of the United States has evolved considerably, the fairs continue to draw millions of people yearly from different backgrounds and upbringings who seek a place near their homes where community is celebrated in all its diversity.
 
The results of Littky’s road trips are published for the first time in American Fair, a breathtaking collection of photographs where wistful reflections on the past meet the challenging realities of American life in the 21st century. Idyllic portraits of farmers and rope-and-ride spectators are shown alongside tableaux that evoke undertones of apprehension and uncertainty. Elderly faces that have seen many seasons of the fair are interspersed with images of youth who project determination or innocence underneath adolescent postures.
 
An amazing work that, in our humble opinion, belongs in the same league as some of the great masters of photography who documented real America, such as Robert Frank and Dorothea Lange.
 

Author : The Slowear Journal

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USA  | county fairs  | Pamela Littky  | American fair  | photography  |

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