Niall O’Brien came to the St Martinsville parish, Louisiana, looking for Gothic America. What he found was darkness, beauty, kindness, and a strange isolation—an underbelly of the American dream.
Like many of his past projects, O’Brien befriended and became embedded in the world he depicts. He took portraits of strange characters, people at moments of deep tragedy and familial connection. He captures the darkness of the landscape but always focusing on the human. Crosses marking roadside, alcohol-related deaths. Moss covered Cyprus trees, abandoned cars and burnt-out homes. Mist on agricultural fields, bringing to mind the depression era landscape of John Steinbeck. Death and dust become recurring focal points.
Over time the engrained racist history of the area emerged, and how that ongoing violence and segregation still influences the community. O’Brien’s atmospheric images are an amalgam of accidental moments that show the world as equally dark and decaying, as it is beautiful.