27 January 2014

From walking with reindeer to driving with Keillor - Erika Larsen

I was happily surprised to see the February 2014 issue of National Geographic lying on the kitchen table today; the cover feature was about the landscape of brains, and one of the pictorial features (not explicitly related to the cover story, as far as I could see) delved into the topic of Garrison Keillor's imagination. Or, rather, a survey of the real landscapes that have inspired his fictions of small towns and large lives enacted in this midwestern space we occupy.

The photographs accompanying the story are by Erika Larsen; Garrison wrote the accompanying piece, "There's No Place Like Home" and the captions for Erika's photos. I recently reviewed Larsen's book SAMI (emphas.is, 2013) for Afterimage (v. 41 no. 4, just released). So it was a pleasure to see her work in another, not unrelated context; Minnesota's tundra-esque qualities, which imbue humans with an extra-sensitive layer of aura, are comparable to those Larsen photographed earlier.

Interesting, too, to compare and contrast what National Geographic did in 1999 when it published "In Search of Lake Wobegon," a portfolio of Richard Olsenius' photographs on the theme, with commentary by Garrison. (This work was also published in a 2001 book with the same title.) Olsenius worked with a 4x5 and the general idea of finding woebegone scenes in Minnesota's Stearns County. Larsen's photographs range across the Minnesota landscape and establish a more psycho-emotive mapping of the terrain.

Link to Erika Larsen's photographs
Link to Garrison Keillor's text

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