UPP - Unemployment Portrait Project

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Pastiche, Feb 28, 2009.

  1. Pastiche

    Pastiche Member

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    Hello,

    My name is Noah Huber.

    I've started a portrait project - to make portraits of people who are seeking unemployment assistance from the government NOW.

    The project is easily circumscribed and simple:

    • Process
    • visit local unemployment offices for 3-6 hours, three days a week.
    • ask people if they'd mind having their portraits made, explain why, explain what I'm looking for (unemployment)
    • make the portrait
    • exchange any information they might ask for, take email addy if they request a copy of the image (scan of the neg)
    • repeat until out of film or out of the economic crisis.
    Its pretty simple.
    I wait, I talk to people, I ask everyone, I listen. I make portraits.

    The images, I hope, will eventually find their way to be shown to those people "in charge", or those people who have access to them, and put a face on the numbers we all hear every time we turn on the television or the radio or open a newspaper.

    It is a small, and possibly inconsequential effort, a trifling kind of therapy for everyone involved - but I believe it is a worthwhile and apropos endeavor.



    I'm working in Tucson, AZ - I've been at this for two weeks, put in roughly 20 hours on the ground (longer if you count the time it took to acquaint the offices with what I am doing - the last thing I want is to make adversaries inside the very places I must frequent in order to do the project). In that time I've gotten almost 50 portraits made. If I could have spent more time, or had been a bit better prepared I'd have made close to 50% more portraits, I believe.


    This thread is an open invitation to form a "linked ring" of people who are willing to do the same wherever they are. Go to the facilities where the people who are worst off go to seek assistance and make their portraits - as an act of grace, to say by gesture "someone IS looking", in hope of replacing cold hard numbers with actual faces, people and lives. Not allowing the stats to be the only way that the current events are seen. This Global Economic Crisis is a neat and convenient handle for what is in truth a crisis lived and not merely counted. Economies don't have families, economies don't have hopes and dreams, economies don't feel. We do.
     
  2. OP
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    Pastiche

    Pastiche Member

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  3. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    Sounds like a worthy project, Noah. I wish you all success with it; it sounds like your heart is in the right place.

    I'm surprised you haven't gotten some flack from employees at the unemployment offices; if not, it's a testament to your people skills! :smile:

    You might think about getting a model release from each person, in exchange for a print/scan. Technically you don't need a release unless you want to use someone's image to promote a product commercially; but if you have any notions of publishing the work, you may find potential publishers nervous about doing so without releases.

    Please keep us posted on your progress.
     
  4. OP
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    Pastiche

    Pastiche Member

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    Thanks Michael.

    Yeah.. I went in to each one of the offices and forewarned them of what I'd be doing.
    One met me with indifference, another with ridicule, the third with warmth and helpfulness.
     
  5. theseasideartist

    theseasideartist Member

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    Hi Noah-
    it has been just over a year to the day- that you first posted this project.
    I am listening to the tv and they are still waiting on the big vote for the heathcare plan overhaul.
    This project seems very fitting today as well; unemployment being so high.
    Tea Parties are being held all over the country- I saw your thread as somewhat of a time capsule.
    I went to your web site but i didn't see any images.
    Just wondering if you have any updates on your project?
    D