Currently reading : Lori Beth White Potarf is 2014’s drugged hazed answer to Diane Arbus
Earlier in October, a woman named Lori Potarf stirred some controversy in the headlines of Oklahoma’s newspapers. According to reports, police stopped Potarf and her companion, Richard Henderson, along U.S. 81 for a broken tail light, and it didn’t take long for them to discover a stash of syringes, spoons and methamphetamine residue. However what really captured peoples attention was Potarf’s surreal announcement that after her arrest for possession of crystal meth, it was her Wiccan religion which allowed allowed her to posses the drug. Potarf was arrested and charged with possession of narcotics and drug paraphernalia.
Since this news spread in some lower grade media circles, her personal Facebook profile was discovered with an exceptional amount of photographs documenting her hazy, often harrowing and drug fuelled life. One site named her ‘the Diane Arbus of Tweaker Cellphone photography‘ and its easy to understand this comparison once seeing her photographs. There exists a kind of brutal honesty only comparable to the work of outsider artists within her images, how much thought has gone into the direction of each image seems relatively naive and instant, simple snapshots of her surroundings turn into obsessive and catastrophic projections of the life of a drug addict. However there is a kind of originality to these images which could only exist within the realms of our democratic use of technology and how we share images online. Anyone can now create and share aspects of their lives, which as we all know is something that we don’t necessarily always want to see, but discoveries like this make the internet all the more of a fascinating place. Many news sources have quite obviously painted Potarf as a rejection of society, pandering towards creating her into this example of a moralistic freak show which is not only wrong but truly cruel too. And in turn, these images have been presented as the perfect way for the more ignorant public to laugh at Potarf.
The grainy quality to Potarf’s low quality cell phone photos, mainly taken inside the mess of her house create disorientating visions, self portraits captured through the mirrors on her wall accompanied with ashtrays, rubbish and household appliances all under a bleak light and taken at disjointed angels capture the utter boredom of drug addiction. There is something fascinatingly demanding about these photographs though, their execution strays away from any kind of formal direction, its manic but somehow they all make perfect sense and have a thorough coherence. The pleasant way in which she has applied different filters and effects to the photos drive them right into the contemporary. Perhaps though its the huge amount of humanity and emotion which seeps from every image which is so fixating, especially of those of the scattered photographs of anonymous, but most probably her own children who most likely aren’t around any more.
You can see all of the images which Potarf has uploaded onto Facebook here