Yesterday Saving Country Music took exception to a photo blog posted by CNN depicting “the everyday lives of Appalachian people” with photos of KKK members, burning crosses, snake preachers, and other subversive subjects taken by photographer Stacy Kranitz. After learning that Kranitz was distancing from CNN’s take on her photos, we reached out to her and she provided us with the statement below.
Apparently CNN chose some of the most extreme 16 photos of a 77 of photo essay that is part of a multi-year project still in the development stage, that was never meant to depict Appalachia’s “everyday people”, and instead ironically was meant to “demystify” stereotypes.
Please take time to check out the complete Old Regular Mountain Project.
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CNN chose the most extreme photographs and I did not know that they would do this until I woke up yesterday morning to see it published like everyone else.
I think people are rightfully angry. I am disgusted to see the words “the everyday lives of appalachian people” next to images of the KKK. That is a real insult to the region as is the reductive edit of my work and I understand why people are so offended by it.
I do not see what I have photographed as a look at “the everyday lives of appalachian people” as CNN has claimed, Nor is that written anywhere in the CNN interview questions I answered or on my website.
I hope you take time to look at the 77 images and see that CNN chose only the most salacious ones to drive traffic to the website.
For this project I sought out the stereotypes and photographed them so that I could then offer a counter to them. That is what the project is about. It is meant to be a dialogue about stereotypes: the mythology they create, their value and their role in society and how they factor into the representation of place. It seemed the furthest from possible that CNN knowing my interest in both seeking out and demystifying stereotypes would make an edit of only the stereotypes. What they did is the opposite of what I am trying to do.
I made clear to CNN that the work was in the very early stages of a multi-year project and when pressed by CNN to come to an authoritative conclusion about the people of Appalachia I wrote.
“Unfortunately I am not yet at a place with this work where I have a handle on everything I am trying to say. I am just a traveler exploring new territory with the desire to be able to share my own experiences in an unfamiliar terrain …. I’m not entirely convinced that I will ever truly understand what I seek out but the work is about the process, the attempt to understand.”
I take full responsibility for being so naive as to trust that CNN was interested in my work and the process I go through to make photographs that question an outsiders ability to represent place.
I am truly sorry.