There’s good news and bad news. The good news is my friend has helped me track down the ‘failed state’ of a neighborhood. The place was called Simple City, officially Benning Terrace, unofficially The Projects. Apparently bullets would fall from the sky like bird shit and the unarmed would barricade their doors at night with china cabinets. This article describes the goings-on there brilliantly.
Bad news is (for my purposes, at least) it is no longer a territory exclusive to violent gang activity and has actually been reformed and gentrified quite a bit. I am about fifteen years too late. I missed the boat. But that’s actually very good news. I’m not about to wish for the Circle and Avenue gangs to return and rekindle their war for the sake of my silly little project. That would be silly.
And so my family can breathe a sigh of relief. There is no longer a Burundi or a Congo within DC that I can accidently wander into, armed with my camera and a dashing smile.
But the project and the idea continues. The disparate nature of DC needs to be explored. How is it that law-makers can stand from a balcony on Capitol Hill and look towards the nation and promise social reform and a higher standard of living when they – quite literally – overlook their neighbors five minutes to the east and three to the south? I’m not sure if I want to know the answer to that.
What I’m looking forward to most is to finally be given a subject matter that will allow me to take photos of consequence. It’s easy to do this while traveling. Everything is relevant, everything is eye-opening and interesting and different. But at home, it’s wholly disregarded, that aspect of photography – the most important aspect of good photography. I don’t care how technically talented a person is. If they take photos that involve no risk, that have an inconsequential subject matter, that don’t reach out to a viewer and touch them in some way, that fail to open a new window to humanity that is current and relevant to anything of substance, that lack impact and fail to stir emotions, you might as well be using a point-and-shoot that an obese family from Alabama has asked you to use for their family portrait on a smoldering hot day in Disney World. I’m not saying I’ve mastered this. I’m not even close. Photography is a mere hobby of mine and there is much room for improvement. But I’m trying.
DC is a fucked up place. A bubble in itself. And I shall document it.