Moment x Vuhlandes Grant Recipient

Elliott Fuerniss

“My name is Jordan, but my friends call me by my middle name…Keyshawn.” You have no idea how badly I was hoping he’d say his middle name is “danger”.

I’ve lived in Georgia my entire life. No matter how hard I’ve tried to leave it's like I’m glued to this state. I’m beginning to think I’m still here because there is photographic work that needs to be made first before I fly the coop. Work that pertains to the interrogative nature of what home is and how it might inform who I am. I’m curious as to what occurs to humanity writ large as our nascent public and private memories mutate further and further from the truth of our lived experiences.

God. Bless. America. Or so the rifle says.

I’m from the “Heart of Georgia”, Macon, GA. Macon is a place with a once vibrant economy that is now in critical condition. My dad’s family moved from Western Germany to Macon in the early 1960s to settle and pursue the American Dream. It worked out. Then the financial collapse of 2008 happened and life just wasn’t the same afterwards. Then almost ten years later my mother passed away. I’ll never forget coming home from high school and hearing her tell my brother and I that we might lose the house. Dad recently said that it wasn’t ever that bad, but it was rough nonetheless. But you get the idea - life was great then got real tough real quick.

This use to be the most expensive restaurant in Macon, Natalia’s. In the 1980s and 1990s my German Grandparents use to have the same table reserved every Friday night.

The back lot of our former family business. One day there was a dead body in a car parked here while the business was under contract. The autopsy was inconclusive.

The pool at the country club use to have the best diving board. Now they have it set up like an infinity pool. How lame is that? We used to jump and feel invincible. The club clipped our wings.

I used to hit against this wall endlessly while waiting for Mom to pick me up from tennis camp. True to form endlessly felt like forever because Mom was always late.

My story isn’t unique. There are so many towns in America whose local economies never bounced back after 2008.There are so many American families who lost everything and are still losing everything and all they have left are memories and relics from a bygone era. Macon is just my town and I’ve seen it change dramatically as well as my own notions of family, home, and personal identity. When I think about who I am as a 28 year old and what my story is thus far I realize that my own ontology is mostly comprised and preserved of memories both good and bad. So I’m going back to the place(s) that “birthed” me. The places that I have the most potent memories and dreams of. Some are experiences of elation while others are haunting and surreal. I even wonder if some of my memories actually happened.

Macon has the best sky. Something about it lends to a coastal feeling and you escape for just a second then realize you’re driving past another empty business park.

The wig shop down the street from where I grew up. Naturally my younger brother opined that it should be pronounced as “shhhhit’s a wig”. Can’t argue with him on that one.

These images are, for me, the beginnings of seeing that which has previously been invisible. In making this series I’ve found an opportunity for literal interpretation while simultaneously letting some things be left to mystery and allowing the mind to both preserve and feast on that which is elusive and obscure. I think this is why I’m still in Georgia. I’ve been trying to evade memories, losses, and deaths by compartmentalizing and relegating the past to a closet it wasn’t meant for. So think of this project as a diary of resuscitated memories, dreams, and interpretations of my home. A diary that functions as the adventus of my reconciling the present with past and future.

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