Another water tower, another town. This time it’s Archer, a farming community ten miles west of Gainesville. Archer was home to Bo Diddley; his family still resides there.
With a population under 1,500 persons, Archer is tiny yet not ambiguous. This is cow country, although in one instance it is also buffalo country. Florida is full of surprises like this; a week ago I was driving down the I-75 at 80 MPH when out of the corner of my eye I saw a herd of cattle intermingled with a herd of zebras.
Improbability is Florida’s best asset. In my attempt to document Florida through my own prism, I find myself slamming on the brakes with some frequency. There is a lot to see here that will never make the tourist brochures. I maintain that what I document is the real Florida the way it is supposed to be seen. While there is some comfort in knowing that a Burger King is never far away and that a Wal-Mart is a Wal-Mart no matter the location, Florida still makes it possible to travel for miles without seeing anything homogeneous.
The abandoned houses I photograph are never uniform. They decay at different rates and in different stages and angles. The common thread is that they have not been torn down. I elect to photograph them instead of capturing signs of progress, because the signs of progress are, to me, depressing. If we parse progress by Starbucks, then we are in a sorry state (although such progress would make the news in these rural towns). It’s a very big deal to get a Target; even in Gainesville the opening of a Kohl’s in the summer of 2008 was a hot topic. It is as if North Central Florida, by securing this type of retail, is finally joining the 20th century. Twentieth, not 21st.