Working from Memory - William Christenberry

“Southerners like to tell stories—it’s a tradition,” the Alabama-born Christenberry says. In William Christenberry: Working from Memory (Steidl, $45), edited by Susanne Lange, the artist tells the stories behind some of his photographs. While his pictures chiefly represent small buildings on deserted dirt roads, kudzu-smothered structures, signs, homemade lawn ornaments, the stories are full of people. Christenberry, on his annual visits to Hale County, his childhood home, is always meeting unique individuals, such as the man with one arm who built himself a house, or the woman who fashioned grave markers out of egg cartons. Christenberry talks about angles of light and cameras, but the essential material for his work is a deep sensitivity to the South and a fascination with time’s passing and the visible residue it leaves on physical objects.