Photographic Alphabet: L is for Devin Lunsford
Flannery O’Connor in her debut novel Wise Blood said, “Nothing outside you can give you any place...In yourself right now is all the place you’ve got.” Devin Lunsford an Alabama based photographer integrates this O’Connor quote into his series All the Place You’ve Got. Lunsford focuses on place, documenting the changing landscape along 1-22 or what is more colloquially known as Corridor X - a long time coming-to-fruition highway that connects Birmingham to Memphis.
This interstate, initiated back in the 70s, now runs through remote areas of northwest Alabama, littered with old coal mines and destitute towns. Lunsford explores the tension of the beauty with the anxiety of these places, while examining his own relationship with the environment. The photographer expresses this project is, “my search for meaning within a place where I am both inhabitant and outsider.” There is an attention to capture the extraordinary in the ordinary, where Lunsford acknowledges the depths you can sink to in any place if you only slow down enough to let it take you over.
The idea of capturing such intimate minutia in relation to the now, thousands of faces driving by everyday, is a flirtation of sorts on the meaning of time. As far as we recognize, the passage of time is in forward motion. Strangers speeding by along Corridor X may have lived a whole lifetime before the coffee is finished brewing, so to speak. At least there is the sense of that from Lunsford’s images of towns where modernity seems in flux. Maybe you’ll live forever there or maybe there is something there that will never die, some sort of ghost that Lunsford is haunted by.
As the late photographer Alfred Stieglitz said, "I have always been a great believer in today. Most people live either in the past or in the future, so that they really never live at all. Utopia is in the moment. Not in some future time, some other place, but in the here and now, or else it is nowhere." Devin Lunsford is photographing today, and looking at his work you are left with thinking, yes, there too am I.