“I may pay rent to a friend for my place in Greensboro, but the South’s my landlord; and I’m trapped in its stomach trying to get to its brain. Here, I see butterflies with Confederate flag-grown wings and minstrel vestiges of Daddy Rice collecting dough. I can’t move because I’m stuck in Aunt Jemima’s syrup.”
Spell, Time, Practice, American, Body is the highly anticipated first book by artist, filmmaker, and writer RaMell Ross. Bringing together Ross’s large-format photographs, sculptures, conceptual works, and selected films, together with illuminating texts by Ross and a host of writers, this ambitious publication presents a chronicle of the American South that is both mysterious and quotidian, a historical document and a radical imagining of the future.
The book opens with a series of illuminating colour photographs from Hale County, Alabama, Ross’s adoptive home and the setting of his Academy Award-nominated documentary Hale County This Morning, This Evening (2018). It then moves through a series of photographic and mixed-media works and writings that examine, deconstruct, and rewrite visual representations of the South. Amidst these works, at the book’s heart, is Ross’s film Return to Origin, a remarkable conceptual work in which Ross freight ships himself in a 4×8-foot box – a nod to Henry Brown who shipped himself to freedom in 1849. With Spell, Time, Practice, American, Body, Ross creates a new visual narrative of the South, freed from its iconic meanings to reveal the earth, dirt, soil, and land beneath.
With texts by RaMell Ross, Tracy K. Smith, Richard McCabe, and Scott Matthews
Paperback bound with book screws
22.6 x 27.9cm, 252 pages