DANCING IN PLACE

MIGRANT PICKER

Waiting for Work: “Ex-tenant farmer from Texas,

came to work in the fruit and vegetable harvests.”

Coachella Valley, California,

by Dorothea Lange, 1937

Dorothea Lange, as always, was interested in more than the facts of a situation. She wanted intimacy with “the other.” This man, obviously wary, is relaxed enough to put up his foot, a sure sign of trust. The captioning of the photo -hers- speaks volumes. He had had a station in life, even though it was rented. Now he only had his truck, his labor, his -and his family (background in the shadows)- and his footlocker full belongings.

It appears, as well, he still had his dignity.

Lean and mean, coveralls patch less, his brim jaunty his truck like a modern day Conestoga wagon, is trim, neat, stretched and clean.

The man from Texas, on the road, close to the bone, is making the best of his situation, including his encounter with the city lady pointing the twin lens reflex camera at him.

Lange’s genius, evident in photo after photo, is that she allowed her subjects to do their own dance, to participate on their own terms, to choose their pose at their own pace.

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