In Philadelphia, Jeffrey Stockbridge presents large-format photographs of the interiors of abandoned houses and those who live in their midst. Shooting with a 4x5 view camera and available light, Stockbridge adopts a humanistic view that expresses his subjects’ will to survive.
Jeffrey Stockbridge photographs the neglected buildings and resilient inhabitants of economically depressed neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia. For his exhibition at the DCCA, Stockbridge juxtaposes images of empty or derelict interiors against portraits of local residents who have entered such inhospitable spaces and in many cases made them their own. United States Census data from 2008 indicates that Philadelphia is home to approximately 60,000 abandoned properties. Stockbridge states, “Nearly half of these are located in North Philadelphia... Although North Philly has been hit the worst, drugs, prostitution, and abandoned houses can be found in abundance across many different neighborhoods throughout the city.”
While the United States is still reeling from the current recession, Stockbridge’s images allude to the persistent poverty these communities have long been facing. Attuned to the contested history of photographic depiction of disenfranchised communities, Stockbridge strives for a humanistic portrayal of individuals whose material reality stands in sharp contrast to the mythical American dream. Stockbridge is on a first name basis with many of his subjects and has interviewed several of them about how they cope with daily survival. He re-casts deserted homes and vacant buildings as almost apocalyptic stage sets that evoke a narrative about the lives of current and prior tenants. While there are many glossy ads and tourist-oriented portrayals of the city, Stockbridge visualizes a more nuanced and non-commercial version of Philadelphia that acknowledges multiple experiences rather than one of privilege and perfection.
- Maiza Hixson
Gretchen Hupfel Curator of Contemporary Art