Poverty—”an American problem”

Posted: 2 June 2016 in Uncategorized
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Matt Black, “Rainstorm” (York, Pennsylvania, 2015)
[York has a population of 43,718 and 37.1 percent live below the poverty level.]

This and other striking images of poverty in the United States by Matt Black are currently on show in a group exhibition, New Blood, at the Magnum Print Room in London.

Last summer Matt Black left the Central Valley of California, where he lives, to travel 18,000 miles across the US on a road trip that took him through 30 states and 70 of the poorest towns in America. The startling image of a hand resting on a fence post against a barren backdrop was taken in the small town of Allensworth, California, where 54% of the population of 471 people live below the poverty level.

“California always seemed special and unique in terms of how it symbolised promise and progress,” says Black, 45, during a break in shooting landscapes in Idaho, where he’s working on another stage of the same series, Geography of Poverty. “So it seemed somehow symbolic to begin there and travel east, but what has surprised me is the similarities I have encountered as I travelled from one community to another. All these diverse communities are connected, not least in their powerlessness. In the mainstream media, poverty is often looked at in isolation, but it is an American problem. It seems to me that it goes unreported because it does not fit the way America sees itself.”

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