Stars Fell on Alabama, Fragments and The Indian Iron: three books set in three specific locations at three different times. The voluminous Find a Falling Star by German photographer Regine Petersen is a multifaceted investigation of the places where various meteorite incidents have been recorded.
Forming a background for the stories of people whose lives have been absurdly affected by them, it offers a poetic and elusive take on the following key events: an unidentified rock crashing through the roof of an Alabama home in 1954 (hitting a woman while napping on the sofa); a group of children discovering a meteorite and breaking it into pieces in Germany; and a more recent but much less spectacular occurrence involving two Rajasthani shepherds.
In between her quiet and contemplative photographs taken from these field trips, Petersen has spliced together various forms of forensic activity into the resulting book – archival press cuttings, eye-witness reports, interview transcripts, genealogy records and found images. Triggering memories and sparking imagination, they are part of her narrative strategies to create tensions of obscurity and meaning for the imagery.
And yet, this is not a disservice but rather a brilliant artistic rendering of how stories are constructed, how history is represented: fragments of the past seen through the ‘falsification of perspective’, as W.G Sebald put it in The Rings of Saturn, aptly referenced here in Natasha Christia’s introduction to the book. The Petersen approach is to experience words and images as a proxy to truth that can be interchanged with fantasy. Thus Find a Fallen Star is a body of work that does not yield its completeness easily.
With the epic nature of its ostensible subject – the meteorite itself, consisting of leftover pieces of asteroids from the time of the Big Bang – interrupting everyday life and creating melodramas, the sublime and the ordinary coalesce in this lyrical tale of individual and collective fate.
For more information or to order a copy of Find a Falling Star, visit reginepetersen.com