Bury Me in the Back Forty

A Personal Anthology of Small-Town Living

Bury Me in the Back Forty documents the author’s hometown, a seemingly typical rural community of just over 900 folks. Through photographs, collected objects, community archives, audio recordings, oral histories, and sketches, the idea of a prairie-town is performed. Set against the backdrop of a community history book from 1980, these documents, these private objects and souvenirs tangle to tell an intimate story of rurality. The project is both a document, an inquiry, a performance, and a transgression. It is a cartographic illusion, a community album that contains not only the roses but also the numerous thorns attached to each stem. The collective virtues and vices found at the heart of any complex place. More importantly, it is simply a story being recorded, recollected, and reconfigured—a layered portrait of rurality that is both unique and universal. The result of which is the stoicism of place, a lived existence, which roars at times and suffers so quietly at others. This is not a straightforward document, it is meant to excite, awe, confuse, bore and most of all, it is meant to be revisited.

The narrative that follows is a fugitive storyline. A place where folklore and alchemy mixes with community to create a collective, albeit paradoxically disjoined, narrative of life on the prairies. A form of community particle collider, forcing narratives together, merging them, grinding them against one another until something derivative emerges, something new and indistinguishable from one another—real and imagined. These collisions inhabit an in-betweenness, an imagined community. Bury Me is equal parts time-machine and time-capsule guiding us towards one of the many fates awaiting the rural, marking its constellations, telling us when it is time for growth and more importantly when it is time for dormancy and death.

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