Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
June 1, 2016

The Lookouts: Matt Black Revisions the Homeless

Matt Black travelled to more than 70 cities across America, documenting impoverished communities. He took this photo at a homeless camp in Frenso, California, where 24.8% of its population live below the poverty level. Matt Black/Magnum Photos

If you’re not familiar with Matt Black’s work, he has been traveling America documenting poverty. We have also done several posts looking at  his images as they play with meaning and witness America’s fault lines in a unique and a deeper way. (We looked at “Flint/Hiroshima,” “the Sphinx” and the “trunk/crow.”)

Here’s the adapted caption of this image from the Magnum Photos Instagram feed:

In The Geography of Poverty project, Matt Black travelled to more than 70 cities across America, documenting impoverished communities. Black took this photo at a homeless camp in Frenso, California, where 24.8% of its population live below the poverty level.

This is a wonderful example of Matt’s gift. The only thing that exceeds the uniqueness of the scene or the depth of respect is the intelligence of the symbolism.  When we think of homelessness, protection or the long view aren’t qualities that typically come to mind. Counterprogramming the stereotype of the homeless as damned and aimless, Black presents them as seers and sentinels.

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(photo: Matt Black @magnumphotos/Instagram)

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