Darkness in the Light
This ongoing series of portraits were made while working on my project about Detroit’s neighborhoods. In doing so, I couldn’t help but notice an unusually high number of white women who were, for lack of a better term, “working the streets” in broad daylight. Unencumbered by any threat from the Detroit police, whose presence is often minimalized due to short staffing and budget cuts, coupled with the ease of accessible drugs and the proliferation of dope houses, their free reign of the neighborhoods seemed as casual and familiar as that of the local postman. These women, caught in the vicious cycle of addiction, are all suffering from some form of substance abuse, resorting to prostitution as the only way they know to support their drug habit. My approach to this project is not to cast an aire of lightness to the situation, but to photograph these woman in as casual a way as possible so that your perception as to what and who they are is ambiguous. The meaning of the photograph challenges the viewer to consider alternate possibilities of identity and in doing so brings a closer sense of association with them. In this way they could be considered as someone familiar, perhaps a friend or sister, someone close to you or a loved one, but in reality someone also caught in the grip of a paralyzing and devastating reality.
Sometimes accompanied by a boyfriend, husband, or pimp who is also an addict, they risk their lives daily. Many have been stabbed, had guns held to their heads, been severely beaten, robbed and then thrown out of a moving car, and even held hostage and repeatedly raped. Apart from their own dire circumstance, which they have little control over, their addiction has far more reaching consequences that affect friends, lovers, and relatives, but also the children of many of these women who are taken away and placed into foster care.
These photographs are a reminder of how fragile life can be and how easily it is to lose one’s self.