In North America, there has been a resurgence of "intentional communities," from small cooperatives on university campuses to large rural farming communities. When Aperture realized that a number of photographers were focusing on this subject, we also found that the question, what is communal, offered a wide range of interpretations.
Far from the unpredictable currents of mainstream America, across the wide prairies of Montana, the Hutterites live on large farms and ranches. Here, in self-contained colonies of thirty-five to one hundred or so people, they shun the modern world.
Practically invisible in the rich ethnic mix that makes up this country, the Romani Americans, or "Gypsies," are found in every major city, and continue to maintain their language and cultural identity with a vigor other minorities might envy.
Dusk, early winter. Karen, a woman with straight gray hair and serious glasses, sits at a table made of maple in a spacious and cheerful kitchen, a basket of wool at her feet. Around her, several people chat, while a woman reaches into a cupboard for mugs and tea bags.
In 1987, three homeless men who had been living in Tompkins Square Park cleared debris from a city-owned vacant lot on New York's Lower East Side and built simple plywood dwellings for themselves. Other homeless people joined them as they scavenged for materials in the early morning hours and assembled the makeshift structures.
I met my first Mennonite immigrant in my father's auto-body repair shop in Ontario, Canada. David Reddekop wore plastic netting salvaged from a bag of oranges over his hair and his gums were bleeding. The night before, David had pulled out two of his badly infected teeth with a pair of pliers.
"Get your motor running, head out on the highway. Looking for adventure...," croaks Mike in discordant accompaniment to the old Steppenwolf anthem blaring from the door speakers of otherwise broken-down Baby Blue. With permanently blackened fingers, Mike goes over Blue's frozen pistons and valves and belts.
GEORGIA O'KEEFFE AT GHOST RANCH: A PHOTO ESSAY, JOHN LOENGARD
In 1966, Life magazine sent a young photographer, John Loengard, to New Mexico to photograph Georgia O'Keeffe. By that time she was already an icon. During three days with her he dutifully made images of O'Keeffe and her surroundings that reflected her mythological status— the reclusive, mysterious artist who was, in the popular imagination, as much a part of the southwestern landscape as the hills themselves.
We are grateful to Alfred Stieglitz for at least three contributions: the changes he helped bring about within the American art establishment, the photographs he took, and the support he offered, by the example of his life, for a sense of community.
In 1942, soon after Tina Modotti's unforeseen death—at forty-five, of reported heart failure while riding in a Mexico City taxi—a memorial exhibition was organized by a group of Republican Refugees from the Spanish Civil War. Modotti was commemorated as a comrade in the ongoing fight against fascism and fifty of her photographs were presented at the Galeria de Arte Mexicano.
On February 5, 1996, the photographer Brian Weil was found dead in his apartment, apparently from pneumonia complicated by illegal drugs. The media made much of the tragedy, seeing irony in the fact that Brian pioneered now-heralded efforts to get clean paraphernalia and other services to users in Harlem and the Bronx, thus preventing the spread of AIDS.
ROBERT ADAMS is an independent photographer and writer whose publications include: West from the Columbia: Views at the River Mouth, Listening to the River: Seasons in the American West, and Why People Photograph. JANINE ALTONGY is a free-lance researcher, writer, and producer whose book projects include: Below the Line: Living Poor in America, and Homeless in America.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are courtesy of, and copyright by, the artist. Front cover photograph and pp. 2-13 by Laura Wilson; pp. 14-25 by Cristina Salvador; pp. 26-35 by Cornelius M. Pietzner and Stephan Rasch; pp. 36-45 by Margaret Morton, courtesy of Simon Lowinsky Gallery, NYC;