Awardee: Kevin Cook
Primary Artistic Medium: Visual Arts, 2 Dimensional
Philadelphia’s gun violence crisis has reached startling, historic levels. As of October 1, 2020, there have 1,560 shootings in Philly: 1,310 nonfatal and 278 fatal. Nine percent of the victims have been younger than 18. Overall, there have been 349 homicides in the city, a 36% increase from 2019. Data from the Philadelphia Police Department, which goes back to 2007, shows that 2020 will most likely be the first year Philadelphia has recorded over 400 homicides. Already more people have been killed this year than the year end totals for 2008-2017.
Journalistic coverage of gun violence in Philadelphia is generally glossed over with quick TV clips and brief news articles. Proper long-form documentation fails to exist. My proposed project “Gone too Soon: The Effects of Philadelphia’s Gun Violence Crisis” is a documentary photography project exploring this epidemic. Photography is the ultimate surveyor tool. Carefully curated long-form documentary photography can tell stories more effectively than verbal description.
The photographs will be a visual essay of Police activity at crimes scenes, families and friends of loved ones who were shot and killed as well as people who were physically affected by gunfire. My pictures will be a unique mix of portraits, moment-based photos and abstracts. The final result will be an expansive photographic look into Philadelphia’s gun violence crisis.
There is a saying that documentary photography “gives a voice to the voiceless.” However, these people already have a voice. The photographs will serve as their microphone. It is my hope that more people will begin listening and take action when they see the images. A photograph is a powerful moment that cannot be denied.
By utilizing previous relationships and forming new connections, I will embed myself into the communities affected by gun violence. The people I photograph are my collaborators. I am always grateful when someone gives me the opportunity to make their picture.
Photography is a vital storytelling tool and I believe my photographs can serve as an important historical documentation of Philadelphia. I am proud to be a Philadelphian. Thank you for considering supporting my project.