Alexia Webster’s Street Studio project began in 2011 and in the years since she has photographed thousands of sitters across the African continent and beyond. Though the project represents a departure from her personal and professional work, the series al
Alexia Webster’s Street Studio project began in 2011 and in the years since she has photographed thousands of sitters across the African continent and beyond. Though the project represents a departure from her personal and professional work, the series aligns with a direction she sees her work heading in the future. “I’m interested in having work that’s a conversation between the me and the subject,” she says. Webster’s engagement project also reflects an impulse common to many South African photographers: to push the boundaries of the medium as a tool for transforming society. “Photography in South Africa,” Webster says, is always having a slightly different conversation than any other photographic space in the world. We grapple with things quite intensely — ideas of self and identity and place and politics and memory — and the photography does the same.
Gang Leader for a Day – Sudhir Venkatesh – Book Review – New York Times: “On a hot summer day in 1989, Sudhir Venkatesh, a callow sociology student with a ponytail and tie-dyed T-shirt, walked into one of Chicago’s toughest housing projects, clipboard in hand, ready to ask residents about their lives. Sample question: ‘How does it feel to be black and poor?’ Suggested answers: ‘very bad, somewhat bad, neither bad nor good, somewhat good, very good.’ Actual answers: unprintable.
Mr. Venkatesh got rid of the clipboard and the questionnaire, but not his fascination with life in the Chicago housing projects. He stuck around, befriended a gang leader and for the next decade lived a curious insider-outsider life at the notorious Robert Taylor Homes on the city’s South Side, an eye-opening experience he documents in the high-octane ‘Gang Leader for a Day.’
In a bit of bravado Mr. Venkatesh, who now teaches at Columbia, styles himself a ‘rogue sociologist.’ Dissatisfied with opinion surveys and statistical analysis as ways to describe the life of the poor, he reverted to the methods of his predecessors at the University of Chicago, who took an ethnographic approach to the study of hobos, hustlers and politicians. Much like a journalist, he observed, asked questions and drew conclusions as he accumulated raw data.”