Meadowlark - Ian C. BatesMarch 2, 2023
Ian C. Bates‘ Meadowlark is a book comprised of eccentricities in the barren landscapes of the Northern regions of the United States. Despite the “sad pictures in sad places” genre, the images in Meadowlark are photographed with candor, an exploration still brimming in-spite of its setting, and maybe that’s the point. Notably of course is that there are no living pictures of the meadowlark itself, the bird that started Bates’ on his journey across six states for nearly a decade.
Recently, I watched Alexander Payne’s Nebraska on the recommendation of a friend, and the parallels between Meadowlark and Payne’s film about an elderly father looking for an endgame that becomes increasingly desperate and elusive, became more striking and apparent to me.
The book to me, is about a journey for something knowingly unattainable, either by choice or by chance. The pictures that emerge from this nearly decade long journey unveil the pleasantness of the search, and the humor within the paradox of it all.
As aforementioned, for a book that would usually fall under the genre of “sad pictures in sad places,” the images are decidedly not shot in monochrome either, reveling in the colors of the parched dead landscapes and the sunburnt reddened skin of his subjects. Do I really know what the book is about? No. Do I like what I think the book is about? I think so. Meadowlark at least visually embraces the ugliness of these spaces and regions, leaving romanticism at the door and transforming a gothic approach into one humane and decidedly curious.