Tailings

An ethnographic photography essay exploring 

the silver mining boomtown of Virginia City, Nevada.

Perched on the highest eastern slope of Nevada'sVirginia Range sits Virginia City, a town with 855inhabitants and over 150 years of history. NamedVirginia City through a folklore story that involves the prospector, “OldVirginny Finney,” this boomtown was home to the Comstock Lode of 1859, theUnited States’ first major silver ore discovery. As the nation’s second largestnational historic landmark, Virginia City stands historically preserved,boasting an “authentic” 1860s experience that mythologizes histories of theAmerican West. Through the use of analogue photography, ambient andinterview-based sound montages, and ethnographic text, Tailings relays the voices and narratives of the people andenvironments present in Virginia City, as well as those who have continuallybeen absent from the dominant, colonial history.

Tailings works  to unpack how Virginia City’s custom of storytelling affects how place and  identity is rendered, remembered, and endlessly remade. 

Bystudying these place-made accounts, Tailingspresents a polyvocal interpretation of one of the most influential towns of theAmerican West. The combination of image, text and sound works to both supportand subvert the many voices found in Virginia City, Nevada. Through thiscollection of representations it becomes clear that the histories andidentities that constitute this place are multiple, collective and dynamic. Tailings ultimately communicates anunderstanding of identity, place, and history as participatory and shared,while also inspiring knowledge that welcomes a collaboration of humanhistories.

This project will be completed in June 2018.

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