Nik Nerburn: A String too Short to Save
- February 17th - March 31st
- Saturday, February 17th, 6-8pm
These are portraits from the last 3 years, taken mostly in the South and Midwest. Some of these people I know well, some are acquaintances, others are strangers I met only once. I call what I do a type of collaborative ethnography; I prefer making photos with people, instead of taking photos of people.
When reflecting on why I love photography, I often come back to the poetic definition of the Japanese word, “Nikon.” It means “self-reflection,” but in a specifically photographic way — while you look through the viewfinder of your camera with one open eye, your closed eye stares deep into yourself.
There’s a story I heard, although I’ve forgotten the source, about a man who came of age during the Great Depression. Because he never had much, he was very frugal, saving all sorts of odds and ends, because he thought they might one day be useful. He organized them all into drawers and boxes, labeling each one with its contents. One such box in his garage was labeled: “String Too Short To Save” — It was full. These photos are a peek into my box of short strings, but I suppose they also show something of the guy who couldn’t not save them.
Nik Nerburn is a Bemidji-born active listener, documentary filmmaker, and photojournalist (or photojournal-izer, as one of his subjects once called him). He explores personal histories, folklore, and regionalisms to tell compassionate stories in rural, marginalized, and changing communities. His work explores the intersections of power, memory, nostalgia, race, and place. He challenges his fears by practicing cannonballs in deep water and making prank phone calls. This is his first solo photo exhibition in Fergus Falls, and he’s always thrilled to share his work here.