"Between Regular Heaven And Funnel Cake Heaven"
All Photos © 2004, Andrea Gordon Murrill
In autumn of 2001, as I was traveling along Florida's back roads, I drove by a small carnival. Passing amusement merrily occupied a parcel of land. Backing up, I found myself in a place last visited in childhood. Time and the constraints of ordinary life lost their urgency, and illusion became reality. We were all transients, captured, however briefly, in the moment. Drawn by the beckoning call of the "carnie" and excitement of the "town marks," I spent my time on the carnival midway. Through portraits I captured the humanity of this place with both its remoteness and lively texture, offering a glimpse into this captivating community. My portraits constitute an artistic and cultural inventory of an overlooked society.
This body of photographs documents numerous local carnivals throughout Georgia,
Florida, and South Carolina. I worked with a 4x5 Crown Graphic camera and numerous
Polaroid Land Cameras that use the Polaroid positive-negative film system--Type
55 and 665. Using the positive-negative film was critical in building trust
with my subjects. By immediately giving them prints, I could share the moment
that captured their character and provide a moral contract with these subjects.
I want the viewer to hear the "clangy" sounds of the Ferris wheel and smell the cotton candy as they study the photographs. When I think of funnel cakes, I imagine clouds of powdered sugar in the air. The faces suggest hints of stories, and one wonders what the man at the Effingham County Fair is shouting about and how he managed to keep two teeth... Many of the people I've captured are holding on to something--one another, a railing, a cigarette. And then there's the human cannonball, who himself is held in place (for a short time anyway). Connections everywhere.
Between Regular Heaven and Funnel Cake Heaven is the title of the self-published book that contains these images. The project and book helped to fulfill my Master of Fine Arts degree in photography at Savannah College of Art and Design. The title of the book comes from a hand-written sign in the window of a carnival funnel cake stand. Having taken over 500 photos, I edited to the approximately 40 in the book. After spending hours digitally scanning the images, I then collaborated with Allie Delgado, a Savannah College of Art and Design graphic design student, who volunteered to design the book. I created my own publishing company, Gadabout Editions, to publish the 52 page soft-cover book. My first edition limited run has sold-out, but I am looking for a publisher who would be interested in printing a new edition.
Images and contact information are available at: www.andreamurrill.com.