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On the Subject of Weather: Curran Hatleberg’s Notes from the Field

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“My photographic process depends on meeting people by chance. Usually encounters begin outside in the street. Under the summer sun, I walked the deserted streets of small-town Florida in a dreamlike fever. There were not many people to find in the oppressive heat, and it was often an exhausting and frustrating experience. The heat in Florida is insistent. It will not be ignored. The air is as thick as jelly and in the humidity the vegetation grows unruly, enclosing the world in an aqueous green light. Driving the sandy back roads it was not uncommon to catch a sour, rotting scent, almost sweet. As I searched, few people lingered outside, most preferring to sit indoors with the air conditioner running, separated from the world.

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To find people at last was like stumbling into a mirage. All along the street, families were sitting and drinking, laughing and eating in front of their shotgun shacks. It was probably one hundred degrees, but no one seemed to notice. It didn’t take long to gravitate towards the domino table. Having never played myself, an old drunk stood next to me pointing out the strategies and intricacies of the game. Sometimes he got distracted. He kept splashing moonshine into my cup and onto the ground. His main point was that the playing of dominoes was a romance and a ceremony. It had to be performed in an exact manner of cocky showmanship. I lost my first games badly, and it took some time to settle in, but by the end of the evening I was slamming down each tile in arrogant victory. Winning or losing didn’t matter, as long as you had the right bravado. We played and played, so long that I didn’t notice as the humidity swelled around me, as the rain began to fall, as the light changed from day to night, or as the insects screamed out from the swamps in violent celebration.”

– Curran Hatleberg, 2015 Emergency Fund grantee

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Katerina Voegtle