Jan Banning, Currently Photographing the South

Jan Banning, a Dutch photographer whose project "Bureaucratics" was referenced by Martin Parr in his lecture last Thursday at the High Museum of Art, is currently shooting a new work-in-progress called "Down and Out in the South" in Atlanta.
© Jan Banning

"In September and October 2010, I was invited by 701 Center for Contemporary Art (701 CCA) in Columbia, SC (USA) as an artist-in-residence. While in Columbia, I made a series of portraits of homeless people. I came to understand that the men and women that roam around in the Main Street area of Columbia and elsewhere, an estimated 1,000 or more in total, are generally looked upon by the public as criminals, people to be afraid of and to shy away from. What became clear to me was in fact, the homeless are just as likely to be the victims of a crime as the perpetrators: life on the streets is hazardous. Many of them have mental health problems. Some have lost their homes due to the economic crisis, others are or have been “substance abusers” or have served prison sentences. Their names are published on the internet and with the legal restrictions there is little chance for them to get their lives back on track because of this public knowledge of their criminal history. I realized that homelessness is not the most original theme for a photographer, however I felt I could add a new dimension by portraying these people not as what they are: homeless, with all visual references of destitution that society associates with that such as bagpacks, shopping carts, tents and sleeping bags, etc., but by focusing on who they are.

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