Alex Harris, "Las Trampas, New Mexico, looking east from Levi Lobato's 1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo," 1987
Alex Harris (b.1949)
Harris was born and raised in the South, but studied at Yale University and subsequently began a photographic career that sits on the border between photojournalism and anthropology. He has lived with and photographed the people of Hispanic communities in northern New Mexico and Eskimos in Alaska. His photographic interests have also led to book and magazine projects, and have garnered him a great many prizes and solo exhibitions. He currently lives and teaches in North Caorlina.
Las Trampas, New Mexico, looking east from Levi Lobato's 1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, July 1987.
Harris used only black and white film during his seven years in New Mexico, and his sudden shift to color reflects a shift in approach as well. Harris has found a way to convey photographically the kind of intimacy and familiarity that he achieved personally by living and working among the people of this community. Viewing this picture. we inhabit a very personal space associated with a very specific individual, and see the world vicariously through this person's eyes. In this particular photo, the sight of the historic church of San Jose de Gracia, built between 1760 and 1776, adds a peculiar dimension of time. Not only does the past become framed by, and seen through, the lens of the present, but that past seems to have no real bearing on the present - it is just one view among many seen through the window of the car. So, the picture seems to imply, It is not only the cultural outsider who may be detached from a local cultural heritage, but later generations of that same culture itself.