The Long Shadow, Odette England, Libraryman, 2024, 22 x 18cm, 128 pages, HB, ISBN: 9789188113696
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The Long Shadow: Unwrapped ~ Marion Post Wolcott’s Labor and Love reveals the unpublished life and images of the American photographer Marion Post Wolcott1 (b. 1910, d. 1990). Wolcott was the first woman hired as a full-time photographer for the Farm Security Administration in 1938 during America’s Great Depression. Three years later, having made more than 9,000 pictures, Wolcott received ultimatums from her husband, Lee Wolcott, and boss, Roy Stryker: choose love or photography. Wolcott quit her job and spent eleven years managing three dairy farms in rural Virginia. She became a farmer and a farmer’s wife. She raised four children, did housework, milked cows, learned to use machinery, and repaired farmhouses. One assumed that Wolcott gave up photographing. That assumption was wrong.
The Long Shadow is a homage-style reflection on a female icon of photography. Drawing from Wolcott’s archive of unseen intimate portraits and through conversations with her family, Anglo-Australian photographer Odette England (b. 1975) juxtaposes them with her photographs and prose rewritten from interviews and historical records. She responds to similarities between her and Wolcott’s ways of seeing. England’s daughter Hepburn (b. 2010) shares the story as a photographer and muse. This unique collaboration celebrates the unknown sides of a woman whose professional career ended in 1942 and who sought solace in making photographs in the shadows.
The book contains a preface and prose written by Odette England as well as 19 unpublished photographs by Marion Post Wolcott.
1 Marion Post Wolcott studied in New York and Vienna and was as a freelance photographer for Life, Fortune, and other magazines. Upon Paul Strand’s recommendation, who helped establish photography as an art form in the 20th century, Marion became the first female full-time photographer at the Farm Security Administration and only the second woman hired on the project after Dorothea Lange. From 1942 onwards, after her departure to focus on family and farming, Marion never photographed professionally again but did not stop taking pictures.
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