At first glance, Jessica Ingram’s landscape photographs could have been made nearly anywhere in the American South: a fenced-in backyard, a dirt road lined by overgrowth, a field grooved with muddy tire prints. These seemingly ordinary places, however, were the sites of pivotal events during the civil rights era, though often there is not a plaque with dates and names to mark their importance. Many of these places are where the bodies of activists, mill workers, store owners, sharecroppers, children and teenagers were murdered or found, victims of racist violence. Images of these places are interspersed with oral histories from victims’ families and investigative journalists, as well as pages from newspapers and FBI files and other ephemera.
With Road Through Midnight, the result of nearly a decade of research and fieldwork, Ingram unlocks powerful and complex histories to reframe these commonplace landscapes as sites of both remembrance and resistance and transforms the way we regard both what has happened and what’s happening now—as the fight for civil rights goes on and memorialization has become the literal subject of contested cultural and societal ground.
Jessica Ingram is assistant professor of art at Florida State University. She was raised in Nashville, TN.