Colin Kopp on Making His Personal Series, Phantom Homeland
July 10, 2017
Minneapolis photographer Colin Kopp recently published a personal series called “Phantom Homeland,” a collection of images he took one summer in North Dakota. Here’s how he describes the work:
“It was a sticky summer evening and small, dense clouds of sulfur hung in the air. The pops and cracks of bang snaps and bottle rockets ricocheted down the streets and alleyways. Lightning bugs flickered, and twilight drew a pastel sheet over the horizon. All the while, the old Chevy Malibu sat rusting in the same place it had probably been for the past 15 years.
It was the Fourth of July, and I was halfway through a two-week long photo road trip. I was in Devil’s Lake North Dakota, a place I had never been, but it felt so familiar. It could have been any Midwestern town. I sat looking out of a picture frame window drinking a cold beer while the scene unfolded in front of me. It practically begged to be photographed. With the help of a friend and some resourceful neighborhood kids, I was able to capture the moment just before the light completely vanished from the sky.
These are the moments I live for. As long as I have been photographing, I’ve been drawn to an austere beauty and sensibility of “home”—specifically, the imagery of Midwest blue-collar America. The scenes are typically of a paradoxical nature; pictures of contemporary life that seem trapped in a memory. It is a decaying vision of the past and an uncertain view of the future. My ongoing photographic series, “Phantom Homeland,” attempts to make sense of these ideas by exploring the process of constructing nostalgia: That complicated mix of an emotion that exists in the spaces between joy, regret, memory and fantasy.”