Tonight’s Interchange brings together two episodes that first aired on WFHB’s The Custom House in the summer of 2013. Part One, “Writing on Pictures,” is a discussion with photographer Jeffrey Wolin about how he integrates the written word into his portraits to make stories that are both deeply personal and broadly cultural. Part Two, “Hark! Who Goes There?,” features a conversation with John Eakin about writing autobiography and the way the self is something of an ongoing fiction.
Part One: Writing on Pictures
Jeffrey Wolin mixes the word with the image to produce portraits that seem to stand as much as social and cultural commentary as they do Art, and appear to turn the very subject of that portrait into commentary as well. Wolin’s recent books consist of portrait series that included Holocaust survivors (Written in Memory: Portraits of the Holocaust) and Vietnam War Veterans (Inconvenient Stories). He’s currently working on a series of portraits depicting Bloomington, Indiana residents from a section of the town called Pigeon Hill across a twenty-year span.
Wolin’s Pigeon Hill project was highlighted recently in the online magazine Slate in a post titled,
“What 20 Years Have Done to the People of This Small Indiana Community”
“It’s endlessly fascinating to see what happens to us over time,” he said, noting that a full generation had passed since he first took the portraits. “Speaking about our memories is a creative process that changes and morphs all the time. That isn’t to say they aren’t truthful. Sometimes your memory becomes clearer after some time as well.”
Part Two, Hark! Who Goes There?
This segment features a conversation with John Eakin about writing autobiography and the way the self is fictive and often re-writable.
We try to locate our mysterious metamorphic “me” within the commonplace act of telling stories. Our guide is an expert in the storying self, John Eakin, Ruth N. Halls Professor Emeritus of English at Indiana University, whose most recent book is Living Autobiographically: How We Create Identity in Narrative (Cornell University Press, 2008). And it’s the “commonplace” or dailiness of “identity practice” that is even more intrinsic than such an institutional practice as that of the school assignments that bookend this very act of life-composition: Write your autobiography…Write your obituary. It’s how we practice that “life in the middest” that makes us who we are at any given moment.
The Custom House – Writing on Pictures (Extended Conversation w/Jeffrey Wolin)
Next week on Interchange, “The Significant Insignificance of Juneteenth.” Chances are you might not have heard of Juneteenth, but it’s time to rectify that. I’ll be joined by Amira Millicent Davis to discuss General Order No. 3, read aloud on June 19, 1865, by Union General Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas announcing the total emancipation of slaves, nearly three years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862.
Producer & Host: Doug Storm
Board Engineer: Jonathan Richardson
Executive Producer: Joe Crawford