Having studied photography, pictures like these orbit my mind on a constant loop whether I am conscious of them or not, reminding me of the power of photography and the significance of the past. On the days when I am presumed a DEA agent, these are the apparitions that coax me onward. These golden messengers from the past remind me of my own intentions in the present. As a member of the KDPP team, it is my great honor to record our present in order to contribute to this canon of visual history that I so revere. It is this very conviction that keeps me going.
Some days are slow, and it’s just going to be that way. This photographic art is a kind of magic that requires collaboration with the world and those who inhabit it. Serendipity comes in fleeting dashes, restoring faith and generating excitement, but it also gives way to the longer pause: those moments when everyone thinks you are a DEA agent and you feel ill-equipped to convince them otherwise because the truth – well, the truth simply isn’t as convincing. The truth is that I just really like to take pictures, more than anything in the world. Let’s face it: it’s hardly competes as a story.
My first day of work reminded me of all that, but it also revealed new realities, namely how deeply entrenched the opioid epidemic is in rural Kentucky. It seemed that there could be no greater threat, presumed or otherwise, than a DEA agent in the community of Sawyer. Before long, locals opened up to me, explaining rather frankly how drugs have remodeled the landscape of their home. Pills have been engineered as part of the new social fabric, and it hardly ends there.
I myself have no thoughts or notions as to how this might be resolved. That’s not my role. All I have are observations. And I wish for nothing more than to keep bearing witness, to continue fixing images for the future. It is my belief that the Kentucky Documentary Photographic Project will constitute a powerful archive, one that will inform the ages. My greatest, most powerful response to all those questions that seem unanswerable now is to keep working.
For more about Rachel, go to rachelboillot.com