Common Ground…


I got this book for Christmas (I try to get one photo book at Christmas)’s cool!

Recently published in book form, Common Ground tells the story of two families, the Cagwins and the Grabenhofers, who inhabit the same land at different times. Harlow and Jean Cagwin work hard to farm the land and raise Angus cattle for beef, but eventually have to leave when Harlow’s health fails. The Grabenhofers are one of many families occupying the bland suburban subdivision created after the Cagwins sell the land to a developer.

Strazzante had never intended to do a before-and-after essay, but found the project evolving after a chance meeting with resident Amanda Grabenhofer. Still, it wasn’t until he took a picture of the Grabenhofers’ sons horsing around with a rope on their lawn that Common Ground really took off. Something about the image reminded Strazzante of one he’d taken of Harlow Cagwin wrestling with his dog. He opened up Photoshop and laid the images side-by-side as a diptych, and a lightbulb went off: he began to see all kinds of echoes and correspondences between other images.


The resulting diptychs are delightful and surprising, showing the passage of time and the marks humans leave on the earth, and confounding our expectations about both rural bliss and suburban anomie.


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