Cairo 2015 | Rivertowns

 Abandoned Building, Cairo IL 2015

Back in March, I made a visit to Cairo, Illinois. I left Memphis and followed the river up to a town I had seen before. I had photographed there in 2006 while traveling the Delta with a poet friend. He had gone to school nearby and thought it was a perfect place for me to see.

This was once a prominent Rivertown at the Southern tip of Illinois that had been plagued by race riots and flooding and emigration to other cities to the point that it had become a shell of what it used to be. Shamefully so, seeing as how most of the rivers I follow are full of towns that are the same age and size, yet have become artist or antique enclaves for suburban wealth to visit or retire to. Nothing like the economic and architectural devastation in Cairo.

The images I made in 2006 are part of the Delta Work series, since then I have lumped that work in with a broader body of work about Rivertowns.

Empty Storefront, Cairo IL 2015

In returning to Cairo the things that caught my attention the most were how much less was there and how differently I saw it. My first visit was pure awe, I photographed most things that caught my eye. My most recent trip was more surprise at what was gone since the last visit and more casual in my stance, like I had seen it all before. I still found some great images but my eyes were tuned to different things this round.

I am looking forward to a third trip and a more concentrated effort to tackle the idea of the Rivertown.

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