Critical Mass Top 50, 2013

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Jeffrey Stockbridge

kensingtonblues.com


C and Tusculum, 2011.

Vinny, 2011.

Crystal, 2011.

Jennette Journal Entry, 2009.

Tictac and Tootsie, 2009.

OG Willie, 2010.

Maria, 2010.

Nichol, 2011.

Edward, 2011

Journal Entry by Edward and his brother Robert, 2011.
Jeffrey Stockbridge

Kensington Blues is a photography project focusing on the residents who live along Kensington Avenue in North Philadelphia. During the nineteenth century, Kensington was a prosperous neighborhood, a national leader of the textile industry and home to a diverse population of immigrants. Industrial restructuring of the mid 20th century lead to a sharp economic decline including high unemployment and a significant population loss. Today, Kensington Avenue is infamous for drug abuse and prostitution. The Ave runs approximately 3 miles through one of Philadelphia’s most crime-ridden neighborhoods. Women-some as young as twenty, others who’ve been on and off the Ave for twenty years--populate the neighborhood in great numbers. Prostitution has become a social norm. Drugs such as Heroin, Crack, Xanax are sold out in the open. Addicts sell clean needles for a dollar a piece-- ten needles equals a bag of dope. With the roaring El train overhead, Kensington Ave is in a state of perpetual hustle. Working with a 4x5 camera, I have deliberately chosen a slow photographic process in order to slow down the rapid speed of life as it happens along the Ave. The focus of my work is portraiture. I want to tap into the state of mind of those who live in Kensington. I am interested in how people survive the neighborhood and themselves. I ask residents to share their stories and I record the audio or have them write in my journal. Rather than write about my subjects, I prefer to hear their voice or read their handwriting, direct from the source. Pairing a first person narrative with a portraiture photograph effectively combines stillness with motion to elicit the viewer’s imagination in a way that is very different than video. A sample of this work is on view at my website, www.kensingtonblues.com. The goal of my work is to capture raw life and make it understandable. I rely on the sincerity of those I photograph to help me in this process. In doing so, it makes the work stronger.