about the south boston project
In October, 1994 U.S. News & World Report revealed that South Boston, Massachusetts had the highest concentration of impoverished whites in America. Littered with disturbing statistics, the article reported that in certain sections of this neighborhood three-fourths of the families were without fathers and eighty-five percent of the people were collecting welfare.
As I researched the area's history, I found that this closed, blue-collar community still lived in the shadows of the 1970s racial riots it endured when the United States government tried to integrate South Boston schools. South Boston was labeled a place that did not take well to outsiders. Most politicians did not want to be connected to South Boston and the racist overtones that came with it. They seemed to ignore it and the growing problems it faced. With this in mind, I started my two-year project of documenting this community.
As I started photographing I found that in its time in exile, South Boston developed its own identity. The individuals living there turned to the community itself for strength. In the process they developed a sense of identity and pride that seems to be their own. My work is about recording this insular community and all of its idiosyncrasies.
about the work
My photographic process has always been about documenting people and place to create records of the ordinary - and, through that process, finding poetry within the mundane. Creating large-scale panoramic photographs allows me to show simultaneously details and relationships at multiple spacial and perceptual levels—for example, both the self-conscious way a young woman holds her hand by her side as she allows someone to photograph her, as well as her place in the sea of people around her engaged in a similar task. It allows me to show a sweeping view of the cityscape from a distance, while simultaneously revealing the fine details of the scales of a fish that a boy proudly displays for the camera.
The photographs are on average around 85 inches long (there is also a 44 inch long version). They are ultrachrome inkjet prints, printed on a Epson 9800. Generally I assemble 6 to 8 separate images in PhotoShop to create almost a 360 view. In PhotoShop I do no manipulation to the images other then adjustment of levels.