PhotoNOLA: Elise Kirk: Groundswell
This week we are sharing some of our discoveries from the PhotoNOLA Reviews, an annual celebration of photography in New Orleans.
In Elise Kirk’s series, Groundswell, we are invited to the landscape of the Midwestern United States—a location bound to the flux and flow of the Missouri River. Her photographs depict a force of nature and its changing relationship with the area’s inhabitants. Among other things, I was fascinated by this work because of its portrayal of mutual vulnerability. The river represents an ecosystem susceptible to damage. And while it acts as a provider to local communities and economies, it also threatens to destroy. Though Elise’s work is regionally specific, it speaks to broader themes relating to our connection to the environment and the importance of serving as its caretaker.
Elise Kirk is a photofilmic artist and educator based in Lawrence, Kansas. Raised among fauna and fantasy in middle-Missouri, she has long been marked by the interior landscape of her tangled Midwest, which acts as a central stage in her work.
Groundswell is an allegory about the human psyche and ecological and existential uncertainty. Tracing a nearby stretch of the Missouri River during a period of historic flooding, I invite chance encounters and collaboration to envision the desires, fantasies, and fears of ordinary lives at a threshold. The Midwest embodies weather lands—here economies and livelihoods, secure attachments and sustainable futures, wonder and awe, are all intricately tied to land which lives by unpredictable forces of nature and acts of God. It is also the formative landscape of my childhood, and home region to which I returned in an age of mounting anxiety and doubt. Making ambiguous tableaus across this time and space, I use continuity editing to fluidly sequence them into an unreliable narrative flow, while revealing an intimate entanglement of beings. The work raises questions of our place within an increasingly precarious ecosystem, and our faith to attend to it.
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