William Christenberry. Withering grave, fading memory.

Claude Cahuns image „La Père“ reminded me of another photograph.
It’s a strange conjunction, fort the images have nothing in common
but their being staged in a sand covered arena.

I was looking for it among the photographs of Walker Evans,
until I found it, one stop further on in a book by William Christenberry.




This is one of those photographs that have a special relevance to me,
a relevance that must be obscure to you.

A small format, simple composition, the technique unimpressive.

A longish pile of sand, on both ends a worthless board. In between,
just stuck into the sand, flowers, that I hold for artificial plastic ones until I detect some dry leaves. The flowers must have been put there just recently. The sand is still moist, just its surface is already dry. On the upper edge of the image a rectangular shape, maybe serving in a similar function as the clearly visible boards. As element of the images composition it serves as a moment of tension, and constitutes a triangle with the other boards , thus leading the eye movements of the spectator.
The color of the image is reduced, almost monochrome.

It’s a fragile image, and an image that raises more questions than answers them.
But I never have had an innocent look at this photograph, for it is accompanied by the following:

Child´s Grave with Rosebuds, Hale Country Alabama 1975.

I am puzzled by the meagerness of this gravesite, its improvised volatileness,
I am puzzled by this pile of sand, that soon could be leveled.

Roses in the sand, soon to wither.
Cut flowers, they never could have grown here.

Why is this grave so miserable,
in the year of 1975,
on the territory of one of the wealthiest countries on earth.

A moment in the chronology of time,
a still-life that tells about death,
and with all it’s silence and torpor touches my heart and mind
igniting a flow of thoughts and emotions.