of photography in the black community [of Carbondale] was that white
students would go in and spy on the black community. The whole association
with a 35 mm camera was very threatening to the people who lived
in that community because they associated it with the students.
No one was brave enough to actually go in and confront those people,
introduce themselves and learn about those peoples lives.
For me, going in the year before with a 4 x 5 medium-format camera,
I would have to ask people to sit down and I actually went into
their houses and I got to meet people. The next year, 1982, I used
a toy camera because I thought it was less threatening than a 35
mm camera. I took bar scenes too, and that made it even easier,
to go into bars with a toy camera.
Carl Robert Pope Jr.
History is something photographer
Carl Pope thinks about a lot. The history of photography is evident in
the way he presents this picture, a hand-colored black-and-white print
with homemade edges. The man in this picture seems stuck in history. His
clothes, his hairstyle, the jukebox in the background all place him in
a very specific time and place (not now).
I think about how the past is so visually present when you walk
through the black community [of Carbondale] because the black community
was in ruins," recalled Pope. "The way people dressed, their
clothes were past fashion. I always felt that the black community was
a place you experienced various types of time warp. To me, the mark of
how well a particular black community is doing is how much of that community
is in present time. I ask myself when I am in some weird town and I am
going into a black community, do I feel like Im in the present moment,
or do I feel like its 1970 or 1950?