The magazine of the photo-essay
May 2017 back issue
Pigeon Hill Then & Now
“A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous!” Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film & documentary maker
by Jeffrey A Wolin
The residents of a housing project in Indiana were re-photographed with a time gap up to thirty years
From 1987–1991, Jeffrey Wolin made hundreds of portraits showing residents of his city’s housing projects, known as »Pigeon Hill«.  At the time there was much discussion about the problems of the welfare state with crime, drug abuse and enduring poverty. In 2010, a meth dealer had murdered a woman and her picture appeared in the local newspaper. Wolin recognized her as the subject of several of his earlier portraits. He decided to locate the residents of the projects that he had photographed before and to show how their lives were going, a full generation later. Over the past 5 years he re-photographed over 100 individuals. The economic condition of many remains poor, while others now live solidly middle-class lives. More than a few are firmly entrenched in the criminal justice system, usually for non-violent crimes such as lack of payment of child support or drug use. America has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. Wolin’s focus is on the faces themselves paired with the earlier portraits. One can see the effects of the passing of time
and the ways in which experiences in life – good and bad – are written into these open and expressive faces. Twenty years - enough time for a baby to become a man proud of his strength or for a young and attractive woman to become a woman whose face we can read like an open book in which her destiny would be written down. Enough as well for liberty to be turned into prison, or the other way around. Nonetheless, when we look at these pictures, and despite these pivotal events, which are told as briefly as a confession, it is impossible not to feel that the notion of time is in someway biased, even false. In any case it is at least without connection to what is really experienced. (Jean-Louis Poitevin)
Wendi on Illinois Circle, Pigeon Hill, 1990.
Wendi at Lyons Raceway, 2013.
Carl with his Father, Pigeon Hill, 1990.
Carl with his Son, Pigeon Hill, 2014.
Crystal with Unicorns, Pigeon Hill, 1988.
Crystal with Angels, Pigeon Hill, 2014.
Crystal & her Aunt Judy, Pigeon Hill, 1991.
Judy After Crystal's Murder, Acadia Court, 2013.
Danny, Tina & Willard, Pigeon Hill, 1989.
Danny at 7-Eleven, Pigeon Hill, 2012.
Kevin with Shotgun Wounds, Pigeon Hill, 1988.
Kevin is Healed, Pigeon Hill, 2013.
Kym, Pigeon Hill, 1988.
Kym with Caesarean Scar, Woodland Springs Apartments, 2011.
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