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The Rockabillies (Center Books on American Places) Hardcover – 12 Mar 2010
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Jennifer Greenburg s carefully crafted environmental portraits perfectly reflect the attention to detail and idealism of her subjects rockabilly lifestyle. By making photographs worthy of a glossy fashion magazine, Greenburg places the rockabilly s nostalgia in a contemporary context, revealing a tension between the traditionalism and rebelliousness of their subculture. --Karen Irvine, associate curator, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago"
About the Author
Jennifer Greenburg completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and received her MFA from the University of Chicago. Her work is featured in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and the Rose Gallery in California, among others.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
Maybe I will have to publish my works over the last 14 years into a coffee table book on the Real Rockabilly lifystyle.
The photography is boring and generic.
I thought the photos would be much more interesting and more represenative of the rockabilly scene with a little more info on the subjects photographed. This book falls short in representation and falls extremely short in creativity.I wanted to love this book but for me it was dssapointing. I don't recommend buying this book.
In the book's introduction, Greenburg explains how her involvement in the close-knit rockabilly community initially evolved from a shared aesthetic. That particular aesthetic--with its poodles and pompadours; crinolines and credenzas; dinette sets, tiki bars, and pin curls--is emblematic of an era of optimism, a fictional America of happy suburban families with stylish cars, bright-eyed children, and easy lives. The craving for this American dream is at the subculture's center: the rockabillies, Greenburg notes, were "actively pursuing a 1950s lifestyle of marrying young, moving to the suburbs, and having children. They did not care much for the ins and outs of politics... and they weren't losing sleep over the economy, AIDS, or Roe v. Wade." She found "a subculture of people who had mostly turned away from the horrors of contemporary American culture to focus on family, friends, music, and vintage Americana."
This escapism may seem irresponsibly naïve on a level, but Greenburg's subjects knowingly pick and choose the elements that define their subculture. They create a fantasy lifestyle modeled on fictionalized depictions of an ideal from an era before most of them were born--with total self-awareness. As Greenburg notes, her interest in this vision of the past allows her "to be the architect of a dream world constructed entirely in my own imagination."
In her insightful contribution to the book, "The Culture, Style, and Art of the Rockabillies," essayist Audrey Michelle Mast contextualizes these people's commitment "not just as an aesthetic, but as an identity." Mast invokes Jean Baudrillard's concept of the simulacrum to explain the nature of this lifestyle, in which the invented or created lifestyle is "neither a likeness nor a copy of historical reality," but a newly invented truth, more real than that which inspired it.
Greenburg recalls her own disillusionment with Bush-era America; how she, and other members of the rockabilly subculture, felt "defeated and hopeless" as the nation entered a period of "mediocrity and fundamentalism." Mast points out that rockabilly culture, neither anti-establishment nor fundamentalist, is "an inward-looking" version of conservatism. Incorporating a strong shared aesthetic to identify one another, the rockabillies seek to build a like-minded community while leaving the rest of the world alone. Greenburg's book gives a fascinating glimpse into their world.