Possibly Memphis

Object Details

Title:

Possibly Memphis

Artist/Maker(s):

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)

Culture:

American

Place(s):

Memphis, Tennessee, United States (Place created)

Date:

about 1965 - 1970

Medium:

Gelatin silver print

Dimensions:

15.7 x 24 cm (6 3/16 x 9 7/16 in.)

Copyright:

© Eggleston Artistic Trust, 2002

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A dark figure stooping over to sweep a long concourse is silhouetted by the glow of fluorescent light and window illumination. Prominent lines from ceiling tiles, window panels, and a railing appear to lock him into a seemingly endless corridor. Even the brilliant flood of light does not prevent a sense of alienation. The janitor seems segregated from the rest of the world.

Despite his proximity, this solitary black man seems unaware of the photographer. There is a sense of melancholy to his posture--perhaps what William Eggleston noticed most. Despite his patrician upbringing, Eggleston experienced the deep South before integration. He must have been keenly aware of the turmoil surrounding the civil rights movement, including numerous strikes and demonstrations that took place in Memphis. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis the year this photograph was made. Implied here is Eggleston's awareness of racial difference and the plight of the black worker.

Exhibitions
Strange Days: Photographs from the Sixties by Winogrand, Eggleston, and Arbus (July 1 to October 5, 2003)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), July 1 to October 5, 2003
Bibliography

Keller, Judith and Brett Abbott. Strange Days: Photographs from the Sixties by Winogrand, Eggleston, and Arbus (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum) fig. 4.