About the Photographer
American, b. 1977
Completed over a span of nine years, Jennifer Greenburg's series “The Rockabillies” documents a contemporary global subculture whose participants adopt certain values of 1950s America along with its style, adhering to certain understood codes in terms of attire and behavior. Describing her interest, Greenburg writes, "The Rockabillies are an anomaly compared to other subcultures in that they base themselves and their lifestyle on another generation as opposed to music, ethnicity or station. I was seduced by the idea that one could ignore the harsh truths of modernity in lieu of an imagined romantic innocence attributed to the middle 20th century. My photographs serve as records and monuments to an autonomous and unique way of life."
Greenburg began the project by making portraits of individuals and families in their homes and other private settings. These photographs, such as Eric After the Weekender (2007), demonstrate not only how her subjects dress—in wingtip shoes and vintage shirts, in Eric's case—but also how they furnish their living spaces. Eventually Greenburg expanded the project and began to photograph public social events as well, providing a more complete picture of the Rockabilly lifestyle.
Continuing on the theme of timelessness, Greenburg uses digital manipulation to stitch contemporary images of herself and her husband into scenes of mid-century America in her series, “Revising History.” The resulting black and white images retain the vintage charm of the original, anonymous negatives she appropriates, depicting domestic activities, quaint suburban backdrops, and happy family moments mostly left intact. The images in the series tend to look like photos found in a family album and the nostalgia for the past is intentional. She states, “I believe the post-war era in the United States was a grand era in American history…. I feel that currently we have lost a lot of that hopeful idealism.” By implicitly drawing comparisons between the present and a perceived national past, “Revising History” underscores the camera’s ability to restage both personal and collective memories while also questioning the degree to which photographs can offer an authentic view into a moment in time.
Born in Chicago, Greenburg completed a BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA at the University of Chicago, with an emphasis on documentary video and photography. She has taught at Columbia College Chicago, Loyola University Chicago, Harold Washington College in Chicago, and College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Photography at Indiana University Northwest.