As Susan Lipper laconically tells it, a “series of chance events” led her from New York to Grapevine Branch, West Virginia, in the late 1980s. There, in this tiny Appalachian community at the southwestern tip of the state, she “was immediately adopted by most of the inhabitants and, in particular, by a certain family.” She lived among the residents of Grapevine off and on for several years, taking a series of black-and-white photos whose immediacy and intimacy made it clear that she had, indeed, become part of the fold. The images that form “Grapevine,” 1988–92, are mostly of hard-living menthey drink, smoke, fight, and show off scars for her lensand they plainly bear the influences of Nan Goldin and Jim Goldberg (in particular the latter’s early project Rich and Poor, published as a book in 1985) as much as that of Diane Arbus.
Lipper’s origin story leaves much to be
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