It is such a pleasure to introduce Southbound: Photographs of and about the New South. Over the next week, we will feature selections of images from each of the 56 artists included in the project, as well as accompanying essays, maps, and videos. This expansive, comprehensive, multimedia investigation into what it means to be of, from, by the American South in the first decades of the twenty-first century was co-curated by Mark Sloan director and chief curator of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, and Mark Long, professor of political science, both of whom are on the faculty of the College of Charleston, in South Carolina.
According to Mark Sloan and Mark Long, “Southbound embraces the conundrum of its name. To be southbound is to journey to a place in flux, radically transformed over recent decades, yet also to the place where the past resonates most insistently in the United States. To be southbound is also to confront the weight of preconceived notions about this place, thick with stereotypes, encoded in the artistic, literary, and media records. Southbound engages with and unsettles assumed narratives about this contested region by providing fresh perspectives for understanding the complex admixture of history, geography, and culture that constitutes today’s New South.”
In their multidisciplinary approach, the curators honor the complexity of the region and the many different perspectives that constitute the Southern identity. The project comprises fifty-six photographers’ visions of the South, complemented by a commissioned video, a digital mapping environment, extensive public programming, a two-hour Mixcloud playlist, an all-encompassing stand-alone website, and a comprehensive exhibition catalogue. A fuller picture of the project’s components and the associated events is available on the project website here. Southbound was recently exhibited in its entirety at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Photography and the City Gallery in Charleston, and plans to travel to various locations across the South, first to Gregg Museum of Art & Design, NC State University + Power Plant Gallery, Duke University from September 5 – December 29, 2019, with other exhibitions planned into 2021.