NC State’s Gregg Museum and Duke’s Power Plant Gallery have joined forces to show Southbound—Photographs of and about the New South, a joint mega-exhibition that seeks to reveal the South through the lenses of fifty-five contemporary photographers. Chosen by Mark Sloan and Mark Long of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in Charleston, SC, Southbound presents places and images they saw as indelibly and irrefutably “Southern.”
The South has been transformed multiple times over through war, historical events, cultural shifts, economic upheavals, and the shattering of social norms. Beginning with the economic issues of slavery and industrialization and moving through Reconstruction, civil rights, reinvention and rebirth, the South has long represented a way of life that is by turns puzzling, fascinating, horrifying, and comforting. It has also been the inspiration for many artists, especially photographers.
The lifestyles and daily experiences revealed through the photographs in Southbound serve to remind the viewer that the response to what is seen relies as much on personal interpretation as it does on personal definition. Beauty and ugliness, drama and dignity are all held up for contemplation in these images. The exhibition questions and refutes the typical understanding of what it means to live in the South, explores what it means to be Southern, reveals new images of undiscovered aspects, and examines the tensions in a region that continues to change and evolve.
Southbound–Photographs of and about the New South opened on Thursday evening September 5 at the Gregg Museum (1903 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh) and on Friday evening September 6 at the Power Plant Gallery (American Tobacco Campus, 320 Blackwell Street, Durham) and runs through December 29, 2019.