In this dark and slightly disturbing series, Kristine Potter reflects on the gothic and dark aspects of the U.S. Southern landscape evoked in the imagination by 19th- and 20th-century murder ballads. The striking and richly detailed black-and-white images capture the setting and characters of these popular songs, photographing bleak-looking landscapes and portraying young women who impersonate the stories’ victims.
In the visceral and bleakly fascinating American murder ballads that have become cult phenomena, waterways are often the scene of the crimes described in the lyrics: places like “Murder Creek,” “Bloody Fork” and “Deadman’s Pond” are haunted as much by the figure of the victim as by that of the perpetrator.
Potter reflects on the light-hearted and popular glorification of violence against women, which is still very much present in the cultural landscape; as the author notes, “I see an attitude of exhibitionist violence that starts from the earliest murder ballads, goes through Wild West-themed shows, and reaches all the way to the contemporary landscape of film and television. It almost seems like we need it on a cultural level.”
Dark Waters evokes, and at the same time exorcises, the sense of menace and creeping foreboding that often grips women as they move alone in the world, thanks in part to Rebecca Bengal’s text, which contributes a morbidly compelling narrative to the sequence.