Across the Great Divide – A Photo Chronicle of the Counterculture

Roberta Price



  • University of New Mexico Press
  • 2010
  • ISBN 9780826349576
  • Hardcover
  • 25.9 × 22.4 × 2 cm

In 1969 Roberta Price received a grant and traveled west to explore and photograph the communes that had begun to spring up in New Mexico and Colorado. Over the next eight years she took more than 3,000 photos of commune life, and now she has selected 121 images for publication in a visual memoir that reflects on her experiences and invites us to contemplate the rural counterculture of her youth.

Unlike most photographers of the back to the land movement, Price „went native,“ joining a Colorado community and living there for seven years. Her photo documentation of her years at Libre provides a unique view of commune life through the eyes of a participant. We see residents building homes, raising families, and celebrating community.

Price’s photographs of Drop City, New Buffalo, Reality Construction Company, Libre, the Red Rockers, and other southwestern communes capture long-haired men, women in self-made peasant attire, psychedelic art, sheaves of marijuana, cast-iron stoves, and preindustrial agricultural practices-visual evidence of the great divide that separated Price, her friends, and associates from the families and neighbors among whom they had grown up. The photos also reveal the presence of record players, amplifiers, and electric guitars, along with a staggering array of architectural and interior design, and visits by such iconoclasts as Ken Kesey, Peter Orlovsky, and Allen Ginsberg. The most famous cliché about the era is that if you can remember it, you weren’t there. Price was there with her camera, and her images help us see it more clearly now.

„Roberta Price’s stunning book delivers the past with a wallop. It is at once a work of history and memory with none of the anthropological detachment that frequently characterizes interrogations of this period. Price has succeeded in capturing the energy and the often underestimated ambitiousness of the whole countercultural project. Her images have an immediacy and power that returned me (full disclosure: I was there) to that peak historical moment during which some of us imagined we could remake the world.“ – Mary F. Corey, cultural historian and author, University of California, Los Angeles

See the pictures in this video: Across the great divide