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The Oxford Project
June 6, 2006 8:20 PM   Subscribe

The Oxford Project: in 1984, Peter Feldstein photographed every single citizen in the town of Oxford, Iowa (676 pictures in all). In 2006, he attempts to do it again.
posted by JPowers (24 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Cool.
posted by parki at 8:28 PM on June 6, 2006


that's awesome. the stories behind the photos really bring some life to the photos. a greats series of "biopics" of smalltown America.
posted by jne1813 at 8:32 PM on June 6, 2006


The stories are definitely worth reading. Can you match the picture with these biographies, ranging from the bizarre, to the mundane, to the fantastic.

Answers: Who got a surprise visit from Ashton and Demi? Who retired from teaching high-school typing? Who enjoys cutting the eyes out of animal carcasses and rolling them around in his mouth?
posted by imposster at 8:50 PM on June 6, 2006


I'm only finding about nine people so far.
posted by zek at 8:50 PM on June 6, 2006


Everyone sure does look like they're from Iowa.
posted by smackfu at 8:58 PM on June 6, 2006


Everyone sure does look like they're from Iowa.

I'm sure if you visted any town with a population of 600 or so they'd look about like that.
posted by delmoi at 9:21 PM on June 6, 2006


Everyone sure does look like they're from Iowa.

/me rolls eyes.

eyeball guy is great. after bragging about guttin' and cutin', he comes out with this:

The invasion of Iraq was very foolish. We never should've gone there. A just war is one thing, but this war isn't just. Bush isn't honest. He's an idiot and a coward.

there's hope for america.
posted by 3.2.3 at 9:37 PM on June 6, 2006


It's moving reading about their lives, seeing their pictures over two+ decades, something profound there in the passage of time and also so ordinary. I think of the "nothing and everything" of an old Bukowski poem, Something for the Touts, the Nuns, the Grocery Clerks, And You. It reminds me of the stories/poems of the people buried in the cemetary in Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology. Or Thornton Wilder's Our Town.
posted by nickyskye at 9:51 PM on June 6, 2006


I wish more profiles were available. Not all of these folks are so easily categorized or dismissed. A couple of quotes:

"[Before Buchenwald,] Des Moines had been the furthest I'd ever been from home. I have post-traumatic-stress syndrome. I still have horrific dreams.... My oldest son, who was awarded the Purple Heart for service in Vietnam, suffers from the same thing."

"I have neuropathy. It's like a real bad case of arthritis. I try to get by with a cane, but it's not easy. Tomorrow we're going to Wal-Mart to talk to an insurance man about the new Medicare drug plans. I hope we'll get some answers.... Two of our sons were wounded in Vietnam. One had his femur shot off , the other was shot in the shoulder. If my boys were of draft age today, we'd leave and move to Canada."

posted by rob511 at 11:25 PM on June 6, 2006


I think it might be interesting and a really good experience to go live in a town like that for a couple weeks. See a diffrent way of life... i think I would enjoy it.
posted by crewshell at 11:41 PM on June 6, 2006




that one turned out pretty cute.
posted by delmoi at 11:48 PM on June 6, 2006


there's hope for america.
...
I wish more profiles were available. Not all of these folks are so easily categorized or dismissed. A couple of quotes:

It's in Jonston country, which went for Kerry by like 80% or something.

In fact, it's only about five minutes away from Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa, and tons of Liberals. You're about as likely to run into a conservative there as in NYC.
posted by delmoi at 11:59 PM on June 6, 2006


Excellent post. Thank you, JPowers.
posted by sveskemus at 11:59 PM on June 6, 2006


Really neat.
posted by bardic at 12:03 AM on June 7, 2006


It's in Jonston country, which went for Kerry by like 80% or something.

That's Johnson county, actually. I've lived in Iowa City for 18 years, and strangely enough, have never bothered to make the trip to Oxford (it's more like 15 minutes away). I can go 15 minutes in another direction to see Mennonite horses and buggies, and 15 minutes in another direction to get the world's biggest pork tenderloin, but I haven't found the draw to Oxford, yet. Now, I might just go.

It's funny to hear different peoples' perspectives on Iowa - I've read countless books and articles which claim that Iowa is a Conservative / Republican stronghold, which just isn't true. The State has definitely slipped a bit into the red since 2001, but it's still one of the most politically moderate places in the US. Johnson county accounts for a big chunk of the lefties, though.
posted by rockabilly_pete at 12:25 AM on June 7, 2006


Johnson county accounts for a big chunk of the lefties, though.

I can see that. What a bunch of hippies!
posted by maryh at 1:20 AM on June 7, 2006


I love the project, but I'm disapointed at the lighting. The first photos are just lit from two sides (equally?), while the second are rather low contrast. Could not find a location with slightly more interesting lighting? It would have made the otherwise fascinating portraits jump out a bit more.
posted by jb at 1:28 AM on June 7, 2006


Brilliant.
posted by NinjaTadpole at 1:57 AM on June 7, 2006


Very cool, although I wish there were more profiles. The book, I'd guess, will be a beautiful, but really expensive, coffee table affair.
posted by TheDonF at 4:27 AM on June 7, 2006


See also: Mike Disfarmer.
posted by basicchannel at 4:28 AM on June 7, 2006


It's stuff like this that makes me wish I could live my life over and over in different places.
posted by jon_kill at 7:35 AM on June 7, 2006


Very nice. The stories are consistently good and surprising. The Ashton/Demi one was great.
posted by OmieWise at 8:03 AM on June 7, 2006


Spoon River is my most favorite collection of poems! I'm so glad someone else thought of that looking at these pictures.
posted by FunkyHelix at 8:04 AM on June 7, 2006


I heard these guys on NPR this weekend; their interview is here.
posted by TedW at 10:10 AM on June 7, 2006


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