Driving a Table Down
On September 23, 2018, photographer Barry Phipps drove seven hours south from his home in Iowa to his parents’ house in southern Missouri. There they wrestled a family heirloom into his car—a wooden table for his Aunt Diane—and Barry and his mother drove more than twelve hundred miles to Diane’s home on Florida’s Gulf Coast, stayed a few days, then drove back to Missouri.
Phipps presents the 104 color photographs in Driving a Table Down—selected from more than 2,000 photographs taken over the twelve-day trip—in sequential order to show, in his words, “what does and does not change as one travels through shifting cultural and geographic regions.” By capturing the present moment while referencing the past with faded signs, almost obliterated murals, closed businesses in quiet towns, forgotten tourist attractions, and many other layers of historical accumulations, the photographs illustrate the stark fact that the present is never entirely present tense. Phipps’s attention to the real-time details of rural regions of the Midwest and the South, juxtaposed with personal photographs of his family, gives us a momentary definition of America in a state of flux, an America that looks to the past in a time of an uncertain future.