"What the Living Carry" unveils a small town named Hoy’s Fork, situated in the American South. Drawing on memories of the rural setting in which he grew up, Virginian photographer Morgan Ashcom brings together photographs, type-written letters and a hand-drawn map to build a fictional narrative of a foreboding place.
Leading us on a trail through the town and its surrounding forest, Ashcom presents scenes that point to a mysterious history, and people whose familial connections remain unknown: a forlorn old man, with champagne to hand, reclines on the corroding steps of a once grand home; a bloodied mattress is carried through an overgrown field; a solitary child burrows into a meadow, while on the streets, a man dutifully cleans a white picket fence – a vision that belies a local mural of a distant, ancient land.
Interspersing this fragmented narrative is a set of texts – four letters responding to ‘Morgan’s’ request for DNA analysis – written by ‘Eugene’ of the ‘Center for Epigenetics and Wellness of the Spirit’. If What the Living Carry provides a set of clues to unravel the enigma behind this strange world, it is through a visual record that is simultaneously autobiographical and imagined, and inclined to elude.