The American Sociological Association held its annual meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this year, and I was excited to return. I spent a lot of time in Philadelphia in the 1990s and early 2000s and was surprised to figure out that the last time I’d been in the city was 2009. Back then, I was just starting to work on The City Creative, so in between presentations I wanted to follow up with the communities surrounding several of the Mural Arts Philadelphia installations. The following photographs are favorites from that group, from a Philadelphia Gas Works gasometer to the view of the skyline from Camden, New Jersey.
Belfast, Northern Ireland’s Troubles are discussed in the past tense. After all, 2018 is the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, and the open war that left more than 3,500 people dead has drawn to a close. But the peace building process is a long one, and commitment to peace is not universal.
Part of my long-running project in the city has been to understand how the peace process is both supported and undermined through place claiming activities, whether for an anti-sectarian youth soccer program or a Loyalist bonfire complete with an effigy of the Pope. Of course, the city’s infamous murals and peace walls demarcate neighborhoods, but so much of the conflict is more ephemeral.
This year I started a new part of the project to explore the duration of these fleeting contributions. After photographing on Eleventh Night, when loyalists burn massive bonfires to commemorate the 17th century battle that ensured the UK’s contemporary hold over Northern Ireland, I returned to the site of the bonfires a couple of days later to photograph what remained.
Below I include several 2018 bonfire images for context and then present selections from my new series. For additional photographs from the project, visit my Belfast, Northern Ireland gallery.
AFTER THE BONFIRES
Rising over the towns of the UNESCO-listed Nord-Pas-de-Calais Mining Basin are terrils, or spoil tips, human-made hills of mining debris more than 450 feet tall. During my recent trip to France to screen The Area and participate in RDV avec la Ville, I expanded my Hauts-de-France Mining Basin series with aerial images that highlight their context. The following images are a few of my favorites.
This May wasn’t my first time in St. Louis, but it was the first time I was able to actually get out into the neighborhoods. This post includes some of my favorite photographs from throughout the city, many of which are from its north side. While St. Louis has had a difficult 70 years, the north side has been particularly devastated by not only the typical story of racism, deindustrialization, and public housing demolitions, but also private developers like Paul McKee and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Numerous groups are fighting back. If you are interested in the history of the neighborhood displaced by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, you check out these interviews.
This mural, which used to read “End Eminent Domain Abuse,” has quite a history.
PAGE AVENUE BEAUTIFICATION PROJECT
Murals by Better Family Life on the side of derelict buildings on Page.
St. Louis has three spectacular water towers from the 19th century, two of which are on the north side, Grand Avenue Water Tower (1871) and Bissel Street Water Tower (1885), and one south, the Compton Hill Water Tower (1898).
Grand Avenue Water Tower
Pet Milk Building (left) and St. Louis Parking Garage (right)
Special thanks to Claire Nowak-Boyd.
In March, I was in New Orleans to participate in the annual Tulane School of Architecture Design Symposium and was happy to have some extra time to make new work. I’ll share images from an ongoing project later, but for now, I’ve included a few other favorites below. At the end is a small set of images from the most surprising moment of the trip: starting the day on a peaceful Magazine Street only to return at night to find it trashed by the Irish Channel Parade.
The Ashton Theater was designed by Ferdinand Rousseve, a prominent educator and civic leader who was Louisiana’s first African American architect. The theater opened in 1927 and closed in 1958.
MAGAZINE STREET AND SURROUNDS AFTER THE IRISH CHANNEL PARADE
After a string of years bouncing around the map, in 2017 I mainly traced the triangle between Minneapolis, Chicago, and France.
I spent most of my time teaching at St. Olaf and wrapping up The Area in Chicago, but I dedicated nearly two months to two different French projects. In January, I continued my “Resilient Images” residency in Hauts-de-France interpreting the character and identity of France’s former mining region. In August, I worked on a cultural heritage project in Paris, Hauts-de-France, and Normandy with Atout France. The next month, I returned to Hauts-de-France for talks, photography, and to open the residency show at the Centre régional de la photographie Hauts-de-France.
Back in the States, I showed a preview of my Resilient Images project at EXPO Chicago with the Hyde Park Art Center and then exhibited photographs from the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation at the Chicago Architecture Biennial and the National Public Housing Museum.
I did make time for a little other travel. I visited New York City twice with The Area to participate in the IFP Filmmaker Labs and briefly visited to southern California and central Indiana. At the end of the year I hopped back to Europe to hail the new year in Scandinavia. A good year.
I’m starting 2018 with the American debut of Hauts-de-France Mining Basin at the Hyde Park Art Center and “Urban Art and the Block: Film Screening of Selections from The Area.” In other projects, my book with Michael Carriere is closing in on a complete draft, and The Area should also be premiering soon — more about that shortly. Check the website or follow me on Twitter or Facebook for updates.
And now a few of my favorite photographs from 2017. Thanks for your interest, and Happy New Year!
See more from Hauts-de-France Mining Basin in my photography section of the website.
Screening scenes from The Area at IFP’s Made in NY Media Center.
Visit The Area‘s website for more information about the film.
Le Havre, France
Read more about Le Havre and Auguste Perret’s St. Joseph’s Church elsewhere on the blog.
New York City, New York
Solana Beach, California
Mixed-use buildings with residential towers overlooking Place Auguste Perret
A modernist city designed by Le Corbusier’s mentor, Auguste Perret, sits on the coast of Normandy. Le Havre’s concrete origins date to September 1944, when the British bombed the German-occupied city’s coastal plain. The assault almost completely destroyed the district and killed more than 5,000 people.
The commercial core of Le Havre in January 1945
(Image source: stitched panorama from the UNESCO Nomination, “Le Havre, the city rebuilt by Auguste Perret.”)
Rather than abandon the port city, the French government began planning for its reconstruction after liberation. From 1945 until 1964, the city’s core was totally reworked by a team assembled by Perret, yielding the singular city seen today. As with many modernist and brutalist developments, Le Havre fell out of favor towards the end of the 20th century before finding admirers in recent years. Perhaps the pinnacle of this recognition is the listing of the urban core as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2005. The designation recognizes the modernist area, with its standouts like Perret’s own Église Saint-Joseph and later structures like Oscar Niemeyer’s spectacular Maison de la Culture.
Now the city celebrates its concrete past and present, but this year it is also commemorating its 500th anniversary with more than a dozen art and architectural works installed as part of “A Summer in Le Havre.”
Earlier this month, I made a two-day visit to the city on behalf of Atout France and used my free time to visit some of the essential buildings of the reconstruction and the anniversary installations. I will publish additional images from the visit later, but these photographs are among my favorites.
Auguste Perret’s Église Saint-Joseph
Auguste Perret’s Église Saint-Joseph interior with Chiharu Shiota’s Accumulation of Power
Looking south down Rue de Paris towards Vincent Ganivet’s Catène de Containers
Vincent Ganivet’s Catène de Containers
Lang and Baumann’s UP#3, La Porte Océane
A resident in her cabana with Karel Martens’ Colors on the Beach
In their cabana with Karel Martens’ Colors on the Beach
Special thanks go to Eric Baudet and Atout France.
One of the things I was most excited about for my visit to Ethiopia with Brian Ashby and Susannah Ribstein was the opportunity to see its modernist buildings. The thing was, I didn’t really know what we would see.
African modernist architecture is chronicled in books like African Modernism: The Architecture of Independence or celebrated in international designations like UNESCO “World Heritage” status for the Eritrean city of Asmara; however, those projects don’t represent Ethiopia. When Ethiopian architecture is referenced, it is typically about its spectacular monolithic churches or the most monumental buildings of the modernist period, like Arturo Mezzedimi’s Africa Hall and Addis Ababa City Hall.
The late 12th or early 13th century monolithic church Bete Giyorgis in Lalibela
But modernist concrete is everywhere in Ethiopia. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, when many other African states were asserting independence from their colonists, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie was conceptualizing how to assert Ethiopian modernity through architecture and urban planning. With a vision shared by many other African elites, he worked with European, American, and African architects to augment the dominant International Style with local characteristics.
The marquee buildings are interesting, but I was more intrigued by the smaller buildings scattered throughout Addis Ababa. The following photographs are a sample of the modernist and brutalist buildings we saw strolling through the city during the rainy season. A note about and a few photos of contemporary architecture follow the set.
Mezzedimi’s Zauditu building
Today, Addis Ababa is a construction site. The Ethiopian government is displacing thousands of residents and clearing large portions of the city in order to “modernize” the “slums.” New buildings for new people and businesses are replacing those areas, and shoddy low-rise “condominiums” are being built on the edges of the city to house the displaced and others.
In the context of this calamity, the occasional building is rising to serve social functions with spectacular design, like Vilalta Arquitectura’s Lideta Market. I wish we’d had more time to see other examples and better understand the entire situation.
New construction in Geja Sefer
Special thanks to Zacharias Abubeker and Marjan Kloosterboer.
2016 was another year of travel, but unlike previous years, my explorations were more international than domestic: for more than two months I made work in Belgium, Ethiopia, France, Ireland, Japan, Northern Ireland, and the United Arab Emirates.
One month of that period was for a residency in the North of France and Belgium. The residency, “Resilient Images,” is a joint program launched by the Hyde Park Art Center and the Centre régional de la photographie Nord—Pas-de-Calais and supported by the MacArthur Foundation, the French Embassy, and Institut Français. I will be writing more about my project in a few months, but if you’re interested in learning a little more about what I’m doing in the North, you can read a little more about it in this short interview. The rest of the summer, I continued my project about Eleventh Night and the Twelfth in Belfast, photographed in Tōhoku and showed photographs at Gallery Tanto Tempo in Japan, toured Ethiopia with friends, and visited with guest workers in Dubai.
But I also did some domestic travel, including for a show in Buffalo, New York at Dennis Maher’s incomparable Fargo House and a screening of scenes from The Area at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee’s Mobile Design Box in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I also made brief visits to the area around Louisville, Kentucky and New Orleans, Louisiana. Of course, I spent plenty of time in Chicago, Illinois and Minneapolis, Minnesota, which finally feels like home.
The other big project news is that after nearly five years, The Area is swiftly moving towards completion with Scrappers Film Group after a party and fundraiser in December. “Thank you,” everyone who attended and contributed!
I can’t possibly do justice to the places I visited in this short post, but I’ve included links to locations for which I made blog posts, and posted a few photographs from each site. If I authored a blog post about a particular visit, the section title is a link to the post.
To 2017! It’s going to be a busy one, isn’t it?
Resilient Images Residency in Hauts-de-France, France
Residents calling for their dog from their street.
Young immigrants play soccer in Brussels’ Molenbeek neighborhood.
Shankill neighborhood residents ignite their children’s bonfire.
Post-tsunami and radiation contamination remediation in downtown Tomioka.
The formal and informal Calais “Jungle” camps before demolition.
Two boys look down to their village in rural Tigray.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Scrappers remove kitchen counters from a partially demolished house.
Six new telescope house photographs I made while visiting for my exhibition.
The beginning of the Scrappers Film Group party and fundraiser for The Area at Lost Arts.
Overlooking the Ohio River and Louisville, Kentucky from Jeffersonville, Indiana.
A major clean-up effort in a North Side neighborhood.
The Minnehaha Free Space before it was displaced by a new landlord.
Four teenagers posing outside a corner store in the Lower Ninth Ward.
Louis Sullivan’s National Farmer's Bank of Owatonna.
A former church in St. Croix.
I hadn’t been to New Orleans in more than five years when I landed at Louis Armstrong on Tuesday, so I was anxious to get back out in the city. I squeezed in a few hours of exploration in between two-and-a-half days of conference activities, including following up on my long-running project with Michael Carriere and revisiting neighborhoods. The following photographs are a few of my favorites.