Greta Bergstresser, Watching the Geese, 2018

Greata Bergstresser, Watching the Geese, 2018, archival pigment print; 14 x 21 in.

Greta Bergstresser photographs her neighbors, her family, her parents’ working farm, the town of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, and the Susquehanna River for the series Guns, Gold, and Going Green. She documents gardening, hunting, and slaughtering animals among people who know her, who are used to her camera and enjoy the attention as mild entertainment. A proud butcher asked to be photographed with blood-spattered skin. Bergstresser photographed herself in her chicken-dressing outfit. She is fast and good at gutting, so she is the one that does it. Eventually, her son will be in charge of the chickens.

The photos Thanksgiving Pig and Watching the Geese were printed smaller than Mom’s Canna Lilies. This group of three measures out near equal amounts of sacrifice and wonder against an abundance of soft river fog, suggesting that the gentleness of plants will outlive competition in the animal/human world. Placing unadorned beauty, innocence, and gruesome realities at the center of the images sideswipes the viewer with blunt fact and discharges the latent power of an unselfconscious, practical farmer’s point of view.

Part of Passing Bittersweet, a 2020 exhibition at the Williams Center Gallery. Find more of Greta Bergstresser’s work on her website.