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Possibly Memphis
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© Eggleston Artistic Trust, 2002

William Eggleston
American, Memphis, about 1965 - 1970
Gelatin silver print
Image: 6 3/16 x 9 7/16 in.
2002.38.7

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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.