December 14, 2010

Brenda Ann Kenneally: Troy, New York – An American Community

BagNewsSalon is pleased to offer this exclusive audio slideshow interview featuring Brenda Ann Kenneally, and a look at an America that we rarely see in the traditional media.

Brenda admits that all her work is autobiographical. Her past is a guide that helps her explore the lives of the women upstate. Brenda grew up in Albany, not far from her main focus, Troy, New York. Some might say that her work is about the impoverished conditions present in many of America’s communities today. Instead Brenda is mostly interested in the social and moral dynamics of living in an “underclass” community.

“I’ve been trying to figure out why people often feel separated from themselves and their earliest desires and loves and aspirations,” said Brenda.

Her photographs detail the dispiriting circumstances that cycle through generations of young women, a destiny that may have included her if she had not run away as a teenager. Six years ago Brenda returned to the area, almost 180 miles north of New York City, and found that not much had changed. Through her photographs, Brenda focuses on those small details, such as ads and signs; the swimming hole and the asphalt playground; even fragments of kitchen tables, that express life Upstate. Says Brenda:

“I was dying to get out of Albany, and if I didn’t, I would’ve died.”

These scenes provide a collective experience of that challenge.

— Sandra Roa


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