The sometimes overlooked Troy

A site called Bag News featured an interview/slideshow today with photographer Brenda Ann Kenneally about Troy:

From the accompanying text:

Brenda admits that all her work is autobiographical. Her past is a guide that helps her explore the lives of the women upstate. Brenda grew up in Albany, not far from her main focus, Troy, New York. Some might say that her work is about the impoverished conditions present in many of America's communities today. Instead Brenda is mostly interested in the social and moral dynamics of living in an "underclass" community.

Kenneally has worked on a handful of projects documenting these communities in Troy. Her "Upstate Girls" project focused on girls in the North Central neighborhood. The work was on display at the Sanctuary for Independent Media, which is in that neighborhood, last year.

Here's an Nieman Storyboard interview with Kennally about her work in Troy. And here are more of her photos (some might be NSFW).

Embedded after the jump is a multimedia collaboration between Kenneally and poet Susan B.A. Somers-Willet about Troy for the public radio program Studio 360.

(Thanks, B)


It'd be nice if the artist tightened her themes. Sure there's an underclass in every city and town, rural towns included. Photographs of poor folks' lives are edgy, always have been, but since there's almost no narrative line to this material it feels fetishy, maybe exploitative.

There's good work here, but not enough hard work. Maybe that's coming in the next piece.


I felt the same way when I first viewed her work. I grew up in Troy and I can tell you that visiting Troy City Court to watch the inmates was not a social event. Nor did I personally know anyone that had a child at 14 or was the child of a teenage mother.

A more interesting comparison would be shots of these women and girls vs. the rest of Troy. And some explanation of how my parents could have raised me, sent me to college, etc. and these women have raised their daughters to have babies at 14 and hook themselves onto someone with no future.

And while the homes on and off of Pawling Avenue may look grand because of their size, I wouldn't consider that the most affluent area of Troy. I think the artist needs to do a bit more research about exactly WHO the women of Troy are.

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