The Library of Congress contains a collection of negatives taken by photographers working for the Farm Security Administration, or FSA, during the Great Depression. The FSA, which was part of the New Deal in the United States, employed photographers to document American society, especially the plight of migrant workers. Economist Roy Stryker, who described the FSA’s mission as, “introducing America to Americans,” headed the Information Division of the Farm Security Administration and decided which photographic negatives would be printed and disseminated.
When editing images, Stryker used a hole punch to create a hole through unacceptable negatives, rendering them unprintable. The rejected negatives do not have a label in their Library of Congress listing. Although you can draw conclusions though comparison, the negatives themselves contain little or no information as to the circumstances surrounding their creation.
There is also little known about Stryker’s motivation to destroy the negatives in this way. I am interested in Stryker’s absolute dismissal, and his authority over the government photographs. Using Adobe Photoshop, I isolate the subject of the image with the punch hole, creating a relationship between the symbol of rejection and those left out of the government agency’s portrait of American life during this period.