Echoes of Lynchings in Quiet Photos
The scenes in many of Oliver Clasper’s photographs are utterly mundane, bereft of any dazzling camera tricks or rich colors. They are quiet, almost too much so. But once you learn what happened in these scenes from small towns, big cities or verdant fields, their almost unemotional first impression gives way to horror: Someone was lynched there.
Starting in 2016, Mr. Clasper traveled through the United States seeking the sites of lynchings. He wanted to show how places that call no attention to themselves were the sites of hangings, slashings or execution by gunfire. In the course of covering 24 sites, they span 150 years, right up to the present century, and range from the American south to New York City.
“From my perspective, I take it back to 1903, when the American scholar and activist W.E.B. Du Bois said the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line,” Mr. Clasper said. “It seems to me not a lot has changed despite significant advances. There has been barely a year or generation that has passed where racism and violence have not been at the forefront of the American experience.”
As the London-born son of a British mother and American father, Mr. Clasper said he had “a deep spiritual connection to the American landscape.” In this series — titled “The Spaces We Inherit” — he hopes to gently confront viewers in a way that eschews graphic images of violence.
Feb 28 2018 (all day)