2 weeks // Campgrounds along the great river road, MN & in-home darkroom Fargo, ND
Meghan Duda creates atmospheric recordings of space and time with a collection of handmade pinhole cameras. She was born in western Massachusetts and raised on the South Carolina coast. After earning her bachelor degree in Architecture from Virginia Tech in 2005 she began traveling the country photographing vernacular architecture. Settling in Fargo, North Dakota in 2007 she was struck by the surrounding landscape and her photographic focus shifted to experimental landscape photography. It was while pursuing an MFA at the University of North Dakota that she built her first handmade camera which she named the Trailer Obscura - a 5’ x 8’ pinhole camera on wheels that she uses to make large atmospheric recordings of the prairie. Duda continues to construct cameras as a way to explore vantage point and perspective and to express the many ways in which the camera perceives light.
Before you is audio and visual evidence of a photographic expedition with the Trailer Obscura, following the path of the Mississippi River as it meanders through the state of Minnesota. The expedition was conducted from June 18 through June 26, 2018 as a part of the ALT- residency. The path I chose does not follow the flow of the river, but in the tradition of early explorers searching for the source of the Great River the course instead voyaged upstream from bluff country to the headwaters at Lake Itasca. Evidence is packaged into daily dispatches, presented in the form of images and voice recordings that serve as a diary of the eight days and nights alone the river’s edge. You will notice that the presented images are not indicative of the Trailer Obscura photographs I made during the expedition. Those images are still being processed. To get a sense of what the resulting body of work is please visit meghanduda.com. Instead the evidential images are travel photographs of my family participating in the expedition with me. When preparing my application for ALT- my only consideration was accomplishing the work necessary to develop a body of Trailer Obscura images for exhibition next year. Ultimately, the residency became an opportunity to come to terms with the reality of being an artist and a mother - that these two identities are not necessarily exclusive of each other. My family is a part of the work I make, not in the sense that they are the subject matter, but in the profound affect they have in the creation of work. They force me to slow down and appreciate moments that I would otherwise overlook in a flurry of “getting the work done.” On this particular adventure, as I found ways to illuminate the natural aspects of the riverscape for my children, I also began to experience elements of the landscape I would have missed out on. The evidence concludes with a final audio clip recorded after returning from the field as well as images of journal entries made in the last days of the residency. If this writing leaves you thirsty for more, please listen to the daily dispatches from the field.