Academic journal article Southern Quarterly

An Excerpt from Burning Time

Academic journal article Southern Quarterly

An Excerpt from Burning Time

Article excerpt

Burning Time is a graphic book collaboration between writer Jonathan Alexander and artist Antoinette LaFarge that explores the intimacies of imagined memory and sexuality. It consists of a cycle of eight poems and eight associated panoramic paintings to tell the story of a young gay man arriving in New Orleans in the late 1950s to start a new life. Text and image interweave to evoke a particular time and place while also summoning the timelessness of self-exploration and desire—experience reimagined as mythic adventure.

The project began with a trove of photographs that Jonathan Alexander was unexpectedly given at a family retreat, forgotten images that gave him a poignant glimpse into the life of a long-dead gay uncle. He began to imagine what his uncle's life must have been like, arriving in New Orleans from rural Louisiana as a very young man in the middle of the twentieth century. In conjuring his imagined version of this man's life, Alexander soon realized that his words needed equally evocative images to create an emotional correlative of the uncle's psychic experiences. Working with Alexander's poems, Antoinette LaFarge took the original family photos as well as touchstone images from the history of New Orleans and western art to create a set of phantasmagoric portraits, showing how thoughts and desires suffuse reality. …

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