An Old White Man with a Guitar

I was considering our prompt on symbols and signage, when I began to consider how the most tourist oriented area of Nashville functions. I decided to spend my internship lunch break photographing Broadway.

Obviously I noticed the quite obvious way in which downtown “Music City” markets itself to tourists, as the home of country music. But I had never before considered what this iconography could mean metaphorically, as sport functions in W.

Is Western wear symbolic of a romanticized South, or do the cowboy boots, like the spikes of the runners, symbolize violent power? I also began to think about the South’s history of racism, when I realized how many images were of a smiling old white guy with a guitar, inevitably a country music icon but often one I did not recognize. I looked in the windows of over thirty stores on Broadway, and not once did I see any figure who was not white.

I had to do a lot of fidgeting with my exposures, since it was midday and the light was very harsh. When I was looking through my images I saw one image I had succeeded in capturing without a reflection. But when I looked at the previous image I realized a white pick up truck was directly inside of the white figure. Decisive moment? Coincidence? No way of knowing. I felt like Perec with the sawhorse morphing into a swastika. Could I now only view my photographs through my own lens?


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