Remember the oil spill–you know, Deepwater Horizon, millions of gallons spilled, disruption of both the ecosystem and the economy for years to come? Oh, yeah, that spill, the one we’re now being told wasn’t so bad after all. Somewhere between Monday Night Football and mid-term election coverage, a massive industrial disaster has sunk to the bottom of the Gulf. Fortunately, Zoe Strauss has not forgotten, and her documentary project On the Beach is still available at this page. If you take a look, you can begin to understand why the national news coverage never gets close to the story on the ground, which is that for too many people the US is a catastrophe, and one that has condemned them to internal exile.
Zoe is a progressive photographer and installation artist living in Philadelphia, PA. Her book America offers profound witness to the people living amidst the faded strip malls, desolate urban spaces, and other scenes of abandonment that can be found across the US. This is the other “real America,” one where people have to deal with a society that provides freedom and nothing else while lavishing its wealth elsewhere. To her credit, Zoe never condescends, and her work is not another celebration of human dignity. We are offered something at least as important in a democratic society: a view from inside their world.
You can learn more about Zoe’s work at her blog.