Photographic Notes on the Road: J. B. Jackson, 1955-1989
From 1955, the year of his oldest slides preserved at the University of New Mexico, to 1989, the year of his most recent ones, J. B. Jackson was on the road documenting ordinary landscapes – his life-long investigation. He traveled the Southwest, California and New England, crossed the Midwest and Great Plains repeatedly, and drove into both the Old and the Deep South. Nearly every trip during these years found him taking photographs that encapsulated his experiences, stopping by the roadside, setting off again.
His photographs and written notes suggests that Jackson’s field research was produced through recurring journeys across the United States. In addition to his copious annotated slides, one unique surviving road diary that Jackson kept in January and February of 1957, during his travel between the states of New York and Louisiana, documents his manner of traveling and observing landscapes.
In parallel with his pioneering interpretations of ordinary, vernacular habitations, Jackson also laid the groundwork for an odology of the United States. This was a “science of the roads” along which he personally traveled, considering and probing the everyday life he encountered. This is the context of the sixty-eight photographs and of the field notes exhibited here. Two of Jackson’s drawings, two annotated slide mounts, maps recreating his apparent travel routes, as well as two excerpts from his writings provide further context for this body of work.
Jordi Ballesta, Curator