Peter Nohrnberg

Photographer, Poet, Critic
The Americanz
Location: Cambridge, MA
Nationality: USA
Biography: Peter Nohrnberg is a scholar of literary modernism, cultural critic, poet, and photographer.  He has been taking photographs since he was an adolescent, and is currently a member of the Boston Photographic Resource Center, where he has... MORE
Public Story
The Americanz
Copyright Peter Nohrnberg 2022
Date of Work Dec 2014 - Nov 2017
Updated Feb 2019
Topics Black and White, Photography, Portraiture, Protests, Street

Could twenty-five photos capture the multiplicity of the population of the United States of America?  Certainly not.  But of course neither did the eighty-three photographs in Robert Frank’s The Americans, the unparalleled collection to which this portfolio pays homage.  Far from comprehensive, these photographs nonetheless attempt to capture a broadish slice of contemporary Americans at work and play.  They were taken in number of locales across the country: Massachusetts, New York, California, Virginia, Florida.  There is no singular coherence to these photos, but there are meaningful correspondences and contradictions: one man attempts to tell/sell his story about fighting in Vietnam, while another man in a blindfold offers to hug anyone passing by.  Two ferry workers relax inside luggage carts between shifts while a man in shorts jogs in the snow through Columbus circle.  A crowd gathers to watch a raucous parade with no obvious theme while another crowd witnesses a Black Lives Matter protest.  In San Francisco immigrants gather on a local tennis court to practice traditional a traditional Chinese fan dance, while citizens of Waynesboro, Virginia don antique clothes to participate in the inaugural reenactment of a small Civil War Battle.  A large man looks out over the Boston harbor where historical “tall ships” are docked; is he looking back to the past or forward to the future?  This image perhaps speaks best to an unresolved contradiction at the heart of the USA: a Janus-faced country looking forward to the future but also backward to the past and its often troubled history.   

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