My Pie Town
My Pie Town reworks and re-imagines a body of images originally photographed by Russell Lee for the United States Farm Security Administration in 1940. Using Photoshop to modify Lee’s pictures, I have created an imaginary, parallel world – a Pie Town populated exclusively by women. In some of my revisions, I have taken male bodies and rendered them to look like masculine women; in others, I have taken pairs of women, shifted their distance and body language, and brought them closer to create a sense of intimacy. In some of the pictures I have created women so masculine, or so ambiguously gendered, that they may not, for some viewers, clearly read as one gender or the other. I’ve also left a few images untouched, allowing for another dimension of re-reading Lee’s work.
Because the images of Lee’s time in Pie Town are available in high resolution form from the Library of Congress, I was able to get close to Lee’s images on a pixel level. For me, working with photographs and editing them so closely in Photoshop is a kind of an intimate act. Zooming in and carving a feminine jaw out of a masculine one, or manipulating the touch of one woman’s hand on another’s shoulder is a way for me to access and merge my desire with figures which would have otherwise remained frozen in time. I’ve begun to think of Photoshop itself as my medium – I’m fascinated by the fact that it shares qualities with both photography and drawing. This work creates something that reads as a photograph, and is infinitely reproducible like a photograph, but at the same time depends heavily upon the intervention of my hand.
Debbie Grossman is interested in playing with time, re-imagining history, and reviving archival images and documents. Shereceived an MFA in Photography, Video, and Related Media from the School of Visual Arts, where she won the Paula Rhodes Memorial Prize, and holds a BA in Women’s Studies and Art History from Barnard College. In 2011, she will participate in the Bronx Museum’s Artist in the Marketplace program. Debbie is also a Senior Editor at Popular Photography Magazine, where she is the resident expert on image editing software and technique. Her project “My Pie Town” is represented by the Julie Saul Gallery in New York. website.