TARRAH KRAJNAK

Kloes
KLOES (Work in Progress)/ 2017

A week after Trump's election I found myself in a century old abandoned garment factory in Lansford, Pennsylvania. There I was beneath a pile of 25-year-old tax returns, sewing manuals and pigeon shit in my brand new 'Kiddie Kloes' sometime around 1985. This plastic drugstore photograph now teetered on the edge of my grandfather's desk as if performing a thirty year old balancing act.

'Kiddie Kloes', spelled like the immigrants from the anthracite coal region spelled 'clothes', was the label that my grandfather owned as an employee-investor.  In 1988, Frank and five other long-time employees scrounged enough money together to save the factory's 90 remaining jobs by buying the label, renting the sewing equipment and leasing the old factory. By then, the US garment industry was already in sharp decline. Plagued by overseas competition that wiped out nearly all domestic sewing operators the factory closed in 1996. One year later my grandfather died. He had worked in that building for 47 years.
Now I was standing in his office and by all evidence it looked like he might be back the very next day. His blue sweater was still hanging on the wall above the rotary phone adjacent to the faded Rick Springfield poster and his empty shoes beneath the desk.

I am not immune to the simultaneous pleasure and horror of ruins.
I only had a couple hours to shoot this decrepit old building, entombment of an American industrial past, my grandfather's and 107 years of forgotten garment workers. The futility of the photographic overwhelmed me: these same abject structures that the Bechers were so good at de-sentimentalizing through precise formal language I could not. I pressed my shutter in desperation, but whatever I wanted from this place was already gone.