Chimney Rock, Woodward County, Oklahoma, 1965/2005 - Jeff Burk
16 x 20 Archival Pigment Print
“In 1965, when I was eight years old, my father and I went on a road trip to explore an area of Oklahoma that we had never seen before. Both of us had cameras to chronicle what we saw: he with his trusty Kodak Retina, me with my mother's Kodak Duaflex. A high point of the trip was finding Chimney Rock in a remote area of Woodward County. I still have the drugstore prints and negatives.
Forty years later, I decided to revisit and rephotograph places I remember while growing up in Oklahoma. It was difficult to find any reference or maps to Chimney Rock, but I got a general idea of where it was. Barreling down red dirt county roads, it was pure luck to find the site because the chimney was gone. In 100-degree bright sun, I lugged a heavy 4x5 camera through a scrubby field and located the approximate position of my previous photograph. There was no trace that the structure had ever been there.
Afterwards, I went to the nearest crossroads gas station where I knew some old-timers were sitting around drinking coffee. Nobody I asked knew how, when, or why the chimney had fallen.“
Much of my work has drawn on the vernacular landscape and cultural artifacts found during my travels around America. Making photographs has always been about careful observation, slowing down long enough to really assess the world that we made for ourselves.
These pictures mostly depict overlooked scenes that become metaphors for what I was feeling about the Midwestern America where I grew up.”
Jeff Burk has been a photographer for over 40 years and is currently living in Kansas City, Missouri.