American photographer Rosie Brock likes to point her lens to the past, forming a portfolio which “involves the act of re-visiting,” she tells It’s Nice That.
Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Rosie was raised in the Gulf Coast, Florida and Virginia. Her childhood of moving around is fascinating to both her audience and the photographer herself, as “now as a young adult with some critical distance, I continually feel a strong urge to return to the places I experienced when I was younger."
Away from her multiple short-term homes Rosie now lives in New York studying at the School of Visual Arts, but returned to Virginia last year shooting the below series of photographs to visualise her sentiment for the state. “Making this form of documentative work serves as a meditation on my own feelings of nostalgia and romanticism, counterbalanced with the socio-political atmosphere,” the photographer explains.
Rosie’s base while in Virginia was a certain town she had “visited during the summers as a teenager,” she describes. “We’d swim in this incredible ‘mermaid lagoon’ off the side of an absurdly twisted mountain road, walk around the local Walmart, and watch Coal Miner’s Daughter each night.” However, visiting the town shortly after Trump’s inauguration the populated landscape of a place Rosie thought she knew had altered. “Since it was early March it was still fairly cold out and all of the local boarding houses were basically deserted,” she says. “For three nights I stayed in an empty old inn completely alone in this mountain town at the tail end of winter. While I was out in the town making pictures, I observed how prejudice, economic depression, and the effects of the ongoing opioid epidemic were impacting this rural working class community. This was in stark contrast to my previous time spent there in 2010 – 2013, when I had been an adolescent who sort of thought life/America was really a John Cougar Mellencamp song.”
In turn, this series of Rosie’s is eerily empty. A mix of vast landscapes showing quiet gas stations, or the corner of a suburban neighbourhood during a vacant sunrise is juxtaposed against singular portrait shots of residents. As a result, the photographer’s work materialises like stills from a teenage coming-of-age film, building a portrait of a town we’ve each experienced.
“This particular experiences epitomises essentially what all my photography has been about throughout college – an attempt to understand my feelings towards cultures and environments I’ve had a previous interaction with or attachment to, specifically in the context of the American South,” she says. As Rosie prepares to graduate from college this May, it is exciting to see a young photographer visualising a side of America that we don’t regularly get to view. The added edge to Rosie’s point of view is her obvious sentimentality as “even though the work functions within a more traditional documentary lineage, my personal subjectivity is a large aspect of the work considering it’s my own background and feelings that draw me to a particular place,” she reflects. “I believe that my multifaceted view of this specific region is evident in the photographs as there’s a definite sense of lyricism in conjunction with a rawness or melancholy.”
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