16 October sees the launch of Red Hook Editions’ latest publication:In that land of perfect day, a monochromatic offering from photographer Brandon Thibodeaux. The book has been a long time coming, born out of When Morning Comes, a photography series which Brandon has been solidly building for the eight years he’s been documenting the fortunes of African American families living in the northern Mississippi Delta. Across 128 pages of portraits and landscapes, In that land of perfect day unravels the personal histories lived in villages and townships across a 40-square mile area in Mississippi in exhaustive, beautiful detail.
“The project began in the summer of 2009, President Obama’s inaugural year in office,” Brandon explains. “I began riding my bicycle through villages and townships in what began as a journey for personal exploration. At that time I held little more than the average person’s understanding of the Mississippi Delta. I knew of it’s racial and civil rights legacy, the blues music culture, and assumed I’d see fields and fields of cotton. What I found was so much more. I began attending it’s churches not to photograph but to be apart of something larger and stronger than myself after a rather tumultuous year prior. I’d wheel my bike to front yard BBQs, blues bars and parking lot parties, where one chance encounter would lead me to another.”
Story by story, Brandon slowly began to construct a knowledge of the northern Mississippi Delta and the people who made up the area’s community. “Over the course of the past eight years I found myself immersed in relationships with families who took me in as if I was their own – like the Coffey family in Duncan, MS,” he says. “All the while I learned more and more about the racial legacy of the region through stories like the founding of Mound Bayou, the United States oldest completely African American municipality. From the story of Mound Bayou’s founding by freedmen in 1887, and the hymns we sang in church, to the lives of the ordinary man and woman striving to pave their own course through history, what I came to find is that despite the labels we might place upon ourselves we each share these common themes within our lives, faith, identity, and perseverance. At a time when our nation looks inward I feel it is important to reflect upon these the stories of triumph, both large and small, as a reminder of the promise each one us holds within.”
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