“All these years I have been assuming that between us words mean roughly the same thing, that among certain people, gentlefolk I don’t mind calling them, there exists a set of meanings held in common.” –Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
Set in New Orleans, Walker Percy’s 1961 novel The Moviegoer is steeped in a sense of the collective culture and customs of the American South. Similarly, my work is rooted in my lifelong exposure to the landscapes, people, and aesthetics of this part of the country, and I am drawn to the unique tradition of storytelling and vernacular form that exists here. While my artistic practice includes a myriad of photographic strategies including documentary and photojournalism, image appropriation, installation, alternative processes and collaborative projects, my work is consistently imbued with my personal history and identity of place. The familiar often provides a point of entry into my pictures – as the subtext of the quote above suggests – yet the contexts or combinations in which my images are presented compel alternate, nuanced meanings.
It is the search itself, rather than arriving at some certainty, that fascinates Binx Bolling, the main character in The Moviegoer. Likewise, I am less interested in making isolated, didactic, single works of art than investigating the polysemous nature of photographs. Through building relationships between fragments of content, fashioning literary and art historical references, and forming ad hoc metaphors through the combination and sequencing of pictures, my goal is to question the roles of authorship, authenticity, and meaning and create possibilities for new narratives that challenge viewers to reach beyond observation and encourage contemplative, self-reflection and social critique.
- Jared Ragland, Birmingham, AL, January 2017
Artist statement can be downloaded as a PDF here: Ragland-Artist Statement.pdf