The aim of this vast documentation project was to put faces on the suffering in poor communities in rural America between 1935 and 1944; it was commissioned by the Farm Security Administration (FSA). A number of eminent photographers of the period, including Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Arthur Rothstein and Russell Lee, took part in the project, together producing a wide range of photographs documenting the poverty, despair and hunger of exploited Americans in the United States of the Great Depression. The result is a beacon shining out against the precariousness of a rural society.
'The Bitter Years', which brings these photographs together, was the last exhibition curated by Edward Steichen, a photographer of Luxembourgish origin, in 1962 as director of the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. It is a tribute to documentary photography, bringing together more than 200 images from one of the largest collective projects in the history of photography.
In September 2012, fifty years after being on display at the MoMA, 'The Bitter Years' was installed in Dudelange (Grand Duchy of Luxembourg), on industrial wasteland, in the stunning Waassertuerm gallery, a former water tower built in 1928, near the National Audiovisual Centre (Centre National de l'Audiovisuel, CNA). The exhibition adheres scrupulously to Edward Steichen's original scenography. As a result, visitors are not only plunged into the heart of human suffering - they also experience the creativity of the master of photography himself.
Together with'The Family of Man', Edward Steichen's other major exhibition, which can be visited in Clervaux, 'The Bitter Years' is one of the highlights of the cultural scene in the Grand Duchy, and makes a trip to Dudelange, the 'Forge of the South', well worth while.
The exhibition is open from Wednesdays to Sundays, between 12 noon and 6 p.m. More information is available on the CNA website.
(Article written by the editorial team of the portal www.luxembourg.lu/ Source: CNA)