Space Invader

The aftermath of a meteorite strike in 1950s Alabama

01 January 2016
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“Everything began with the Alabama story for me,” the photographer Regine Petersen said. In 2010, Petersen read about Ann Hodges, one of the very few humans known to have been struck by a meteorite fragment. Hodges suffered the strike in 1954, when a black rock weighing over four kilograms crashed through the roof of her house in Oak Grove, Alabama, bounced off a radio, and hit her on her side as she was napping. Petersen, who was born in Germany and was living in London at the time, was fascinated. “I gave up my home in London and travelled to make the work,” she said.

That work became Stars Fell on Alabama, one part of a three-part series on meteorite strikes that she titled Find a Fallen Star. Of the others, one part looks at two children who found a meteorite piece in Germany, in 1958, and the other at nomadic herders who discovered one in Rajasthan, in 2006.

Hodges escaped lasting physical harm, but the strike left her with other forms of trauma. She became a minor celebrity in the United States after Life magazine ran a photo showing a large bruise on her hip, but for Hodges, Petersen said, this was a “public humiliation.” The stone became a coveted object, and though Hodges and her husband claimed ownership in hopes of profiting from its sale, their landlady and the US Air Force also asserted claims to it. The Hodges eventually secured the rock after paying a settlement to the landlady, but by then interest had waned and they could not find a buyer.

Regine Petersen is a photographer based in Hamburg. Her work has been presented at several globally-renowned events and venues, such as the REcontres d'Arles festival in France, the Foam Museum in Amsterdam and the Aperture Gallery in New York.

Keywords: rock photography America 1950s Alabama aftermath Regine Peterson Stars Fell On Alabama Julius McKinney stone Ann Hodges meteorite documentation