New York

Jeff Whetstone, Still Life with Catfish, 2016, ink-jet print, 39 × 52".

Jeff Whetstone

Julie Saul Gallery

Jeff Whetstone, Still Life with Catfish, 2016, ink-jet print, 39 × 52".

If Jeff Whetstone’s recent photographs of the American South call to mind other kinds of light writing, it may be because the region’s literature, like Whetstone, reveals light to be history’s medium. William Faulkner observed that Mississippi rays seem to arrive “not from just today but from back in the old classic times.” Even California native Joan Didion mused that the air of New Orleans “never reflects light but sucks it in until random objects glow with a morbid luminescence.” Whetstone’s pictures channel the anomalousness of time and radiance in the South, how the land remains at a threshold between past and future yet eludes a certain nowness. There exist few better metaphors for this slippery quality than the New Orleans batture, a colloquialism for the band of flood-prone earth between the Mississippi River and the levees that remains exempt from the property laws of

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