Visions of a Lost Agriculture
Changing Works combines Harper's pictures with classic images by photographers such as Gordon Parks, Sol Libsohn, and Charlotte Brooks-men and women whose work during the 1940s documented the mechanization and automation of agricultural practices. Part social history and part analysis of the drive to mass production, Changing Works examines how we farmed a half century ago versus how we do today through pictures new and old and through discussions with elderly farmers who witnessed the makeover. Ultimately, Harper challenges timely ecological and social questions about contemporary agriculture. He shows us how the dissolution of cooperative dairy farming has diminished the safety of the practice, degraded the way we relate to our natural environment, and splintered the once tight-knit communities of rural farmers. Mindful, then, of the advantages of preindustrial agriculture, and heeding the alarming spread of mad cow and foot-and-mouth disease, Changing Works harks back to the benefits of an older system.