The Mississippi Delta is the richest agricultural land in North America yet produces its most impoverished citizens. Its population, descended from slaves and cotton sharecroppers, resides in communities undone by the mechanization of the region’s cotton economy.
The landscape bears witness. Spaces devoid of human figures bear the imprint of people who inhabit them. Religious iconography and the ubiquity of alcohol speak to intensity of spiritual need. Vacant businesses hint at prior commerce. Words and symbols inscribed on buildings give voice to absent people.
This is “implied documentary.” It portrays its subject through both presence and absence. It explores the current residue of poverty and economic deprivation on the social landscape. In so doing, it also presents the symbolic spaces and emotional memory left behind by those who were born, lived, and died there.
The vastness of the Delta region, its endless, flat alluvial plains, can obscure the stories of those whose labor developed it and produced enormous wealth for others. In what remains, if we pay attention, we may infer a past, witness a present and anticipate a future.
T. Vann lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He is an alumnus of Duke University and the Center For Documentary Studies, both located in Durham, North Carolina, and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received degrees in Religion and Law.
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