Today, George Payne takes us to rural New York. An abandoned farm in the Town of Adams in the North Country.
The abandoned farm is iconic in the American imagination — simultaneously making visible both an ideal and its vanishing.
In his 1964 classic,The Machine in the Garden, Leo Marx identifies a major theme in literature of the nineteenth century: the dialectical tension between the pastoral ideal in America and the rapid and sweeping transformations wrought by machine technology.
In the 1930s, the pastoral ideal of the farm is not so much threatened by the machine, but by the darker side of capitalism: Dust Bowls, Oakies, bankruptcy and foreclosures.
In George’s 21st century version, we feel the haunting tones of those Depression artists, Burchfield and Sheets. We may also feel agribusiness lurking in the background, rendering the family farm unprofitable.
But George’s montage is about both loss and renewal. In the last frame, in the upper left, we see a still painted red barn.
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
There are no sacred and unsacred places; there are only sacred and desecrated places. My belief is that the world and our life in it are conditional gifts.
– Wendell Berry