NEITHER LOST nor FOUND

Working Class Visibility through the lens of the corner store

 

The Center for Working Class Studies, Ohio State University, notes some economists say that as many as 62% of US citizens are working class.

Neither Lost nor Found uses the camera to highlight working class people of the United States as embodied by the patrons of the corner store – real people in a real context.

 

This social documentary study presents a way of looking at all the photographs as a comprehensive story resonating through separate moments during seven years of noticing throughout eight US cities including Phenix City, Alabama; Oakland, Santa Cruz and San Francisco, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Baltimore, Maryland and New York City, New York.  This approach speaks more to the diversity as well as the similarities of its working class subjects and distributes the storytelling and historical accountability among a collective of photographs and not on a single image. The goal of these photographs, taken collectively, is to show the working class in its most natural, least mediated moments.

 

In the US, the working class is the labor. The laborers are skilled and unskilled working in both the manufacturing and services sectors, composed of women and men of all races, nationalities and religions.

Corner stores are found in working class neighborhoods throughout the country.  Even though the streetscape and architecture vary from city to city, these stores are easily recognized by its location – on a corner with no adjoining parking lot.  Corner stores provide a practical solution to a real need.  These typically plain and simple buildings continue to serve not only as commercial ventures but also as a valuable neighborhood commodity.  Primarily, they are approximately 1700 square feet with one main door serving as entrance and exit.  Corner stores hours vary from 14 to 24 hours a day, most often seven days a week.  These operating hours are defined by and reflect the broad working schedules of those laborers included in this class.  There is an intimate nature to corner stores and a casual exchange of people.

 

 This collection of photographs provides future generations with documents and evidence of the working class and advocates for the status of the “common place” as a space to be looked at, analyzed and archived.

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