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Issue No. 17 - Enigma

Eugene Richards: Below the Line: Living Poor in America

Eugene Richards: Below the Line: Living Poor in America

By Celina Huynh

© Tomás Mantilla

© Tomás Mantilla

Eugene Richards is an established American photographer and filmmaker who has published seventeen books, one of which is titled Below The Line: Living Poor in America. This book documents urban and rural poverty across America, and received an Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography. It’s also the subject matter for his current exhibition at the Bronx Documentary Center, a sprawl of poignant black and white photographs that were for the most part in the 80s. 

© Tomás Mantilla

© Tomás Mantilla

The opening reception was held on October 1st, where Richards was present to speak about his images, his process, and the context in which they were shot. What was interesting is the the audience for this event was not the typical exclusive “art crowd,” but people from all different paths. Every present displayed respect and reverence for the issue, perhaps because it’s one that strikes very close to home. The conflicts that Richards spoke about and convey in his images are the same ones happening in the neighborhood of the exhibition, and all boroughs of New York and beyond.

© Tomás Mantilla

© Tomás Mantilla

Ever since Richard's project was completed, 14 million more Americans have slipped below the line.Richards said that many of his subjects were surprised that he was even interested in their lives, a remark on maybe the ignorance or desensitization about the imminent poverty in America. 

© Tomás Mantilla

© Tomás Mantilla

© Tomás Mantilla

© Tomás Mantilla

The exhibition is on view until November 6th at the Bronx Documentary Center, Thursday and Friday 3-7, and Saturday and Sunday 1-5. 

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