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Photo Essay: Minneapolis’ Lowlights

27 February 2013 No Comment

My pictures are not kind to Minneapolis. But they’re worth comparing to what they replaced over the last half-century. Streetcars and Richardsonian romanesque castles were replaced by freeways and Kmarts. Once welcoming places grew alien and forbidding.

I moved to Minneapolis from a college town in Iowa two and a half years ago. I was surprised to find that it was a lot like where I used to live, only there was more of it: more roads, more cars, more buildings. The more I found out about the history of the places I traversed on a regular basis, the greater became my dissatisfaction with how they had changed.

I may not be old enough to remember a time when Minneapolis was any different, but I still feel a visceral sense of regret when I take stock of the city today. I found that the most cathartic way to deal with my resentment of the recent past was to turn a withering photographic eye on the landscapes that came out of it.

The theme of vision figures prominently in this project. There are cartoon dog eyes, cartoon sponge eyes, washing machine eyes–but human eyes are scratched over, shaded, or blindfolded. To me, this represents our willful blindness to the current condition of our city:  desolate and inhumane.

There are many ways to picture a city. The diverse faces that beam from under bicycle helmets in city brochures tell one story. My images are different. They are incidental, in that I would find myself in these places whether I were photographing them or not.

This is the mundane fabric of everyday life here, and it’s not pretty.

– by Joe Scott