Worth a look: Glenna Gordon’s Harper, southeast Liberia

Glenna Gordon wrote in a while back with word of some of her recent projects. I was already familiar with her work and her blog (she’s been named one of the top female bloggers in Africa). Her blog first came to my attention during the discussion of Marco Vernaschi’s troubling work for the Pulitzer Center.

Looking through her site, I was struck by Gordon’s work from Harper, southeast Liberia. It’s a quiet and intimate portrait of a community, photographed beautifully and thoughtfully. From the statement:

“The freed slaves brought more than just porticoes: they also imported a social order akin to the one they knew in the slave owning American south, only this time, they were in charge. They even called themselves the Americos. The seeds of discontent were built into the foundation of every building in Harper, as they were in the American south. The indigenous people of Liberia became second-class citizens in their own country while the Americos seized their wealth and forced them to farm their land and work in their kitchens.

We all know this kind of story, and this story never ends well.

Liberia was once filled with many houses that look like they could have been plucked up from Savannah, Georgia or Charleston, South Carolina, and installed in West Africa, but most of them were completely destroyed by the war. In Harper, you can still see the past, the thumbprint of history since some of these homes are still standing. It’s a town that’s a monument to what was, to a social order doomed to collapse and leave behind nothing more than porticos and columns.” -Glenna Gordon, Harper, southeast Liberia

There’s much more work worth seeing at Glenna Gordon’s site.


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