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This is a photograph where physicality and dynamism figure in prominently. The bending curves of the decorations that hang, we presume, from the ceiling of the jook and the shadows they cast echo the bends of the bodies. There is an upbeat air and great sense of movement, emanating in great part from the figure of the women bending over. The composition also feels dynamic because the field of the image is filled with people, who crowd in and blend out to both edges.

Overall, this movement gives the image an unrestrained air, a sense of spontaneity altogether unlike more posed shots like Images 1, 4 , 5, and 8. This does feel like a private moment but the quality of the viewer's observance is different. Though the men at the bar in Image 1 have their eyes averted from the camera, you can tell they knew it was there. Their's is an affected indifference. Here, things feel a little more intimate because even though some of the figures are looking into the lens, others are unaware. The perspective is much closer, lending the sense that the viewer is standing right amongst the figures in the photograph.

The man behind the bar, staring out at the camera, appears also in the image of the jolly cop, (#3) interacting with folks outside a jook joint.




Juliet Gorman, May 2001


When you've checked out all the photographs, you may want explore the history of Belle Glade, the area where they were taken. 

You also might want to fill in your reading with some background on what jook joints are about.