Aleja Kensington w północnej Filadelfii została okrzyknięta złą sławą, ze względu na szerzącą się tam narkomanię i prostytucję. Prawie pięciokilometrowa aleja znajduje się w otoczeniu niebezpiecznego sąsiedztwa, gdzie przestępczość szerzy się na każdym kroku.
Jeffrey Stockbridge, 36-letni fotograf, w swojej serii zatytułowanej Kensington Blues, udokumentował zmagania oraz mroczną rzeczywistość lokalnych mieszkańców.
Między rokiem 2008 a 2014, fotograf stworzył serię, dość osobistych portretów ludzi, Kensington Blues, dokumentując nieznaną dotąd część Filadelfii, o której raczej rzadko się mówi, a co dopiero odwiedza. Mieszkańcy podzielili się z fotografem swoimi historiami. Opowiadali o uzależnieniach, prostytucji i innych problemach życia codziennego, z którymi przychodzi im się zmagać.
Jak mówi sam Jeffrey: Celem mojej pracy, jest umożliwienie ludziom nawiązywania relacji między sobą w sposób czysto ludzki, pomimo wszelkich, powszechnie postrzeganych różnic. Opieram się na zaufaniu i szczerości tych, których fotografuje, by pomogli mi w tym procesie.
Matt Neal, 2017. Matt survived his addiction and has been clean for almost 1 year. Matt: One aspect of the treatment world that was practiced by nearly all, if not all of the clinicians that crossed my path is Harm Reduction. It was effective. It worked. It saved my life. For me to single out just one or two individuals that impacted my life would not give credit to ALL of the persons that were involved and still to this day are involved in recreating my life. Read the full interview at kensingtonblues.com #kensingtonblues #kensington #addiction #documentary #largeformatphotography #jeffreystockbridge #philadelphia #northphilly #yourstory #recovery
Charlie, 2010. During the summer months while photographing in Kensington, I often ran into Charlie posted up in front of his house on the corner of Ruth Street where he lived with his ailing father. I rarely saw him wash any cars as his sign suggests. He just sat outside, drank his beer out of a Chinese food container and yelled across the street at people walking by. Charlie knew everybody. Note the bag of weed clipped to his chest hair. He did that special for the photograph.
Tic Tac and Tootsie, 2009. Excerpt from the book below. Tic Tac: The only reason why we pros, we are out here is so that we can get money so we has somewhere to rest our heads. We look out for each other, if I can’t get money she gets it and whatever money we get we share. Our money is together, my money is her money, her money is my money… There’s are a lot of guys that pick you up and then they try to tell you they’re an undercover cop, that if you don’t have sex with them they’re gonna lock you up. We need quick money cause we need somewheres to sleep every day. I mean trust me we don’t want to be out here doing this. This is the last thing I want to do. But I do what I have to do to take care of my sister. Cause she’s all I got and I’m all she’s got. #kensingtonblues #kensingtonbluesbook #kensington #addiction #documentary #largeformatphotography #jeffreystockbridge #philadelphia #northphilly #streetphotography
Marion, in her apartment, 2012. Marion: I think the last time I seen ya with that picture, um, I was upstate at SCI Muncey for like three years, and I got out and I started using right away but then, um, I found out I was pregnant so they put me right on the clinic, and then I stayed sober for probably about another, bout, 18, 19 months, and then I relapsed, um, not this November that just passed but around the November before that, so maybe like, uh, 2000 and, yeah, so I, it’s been a year. It’s been…it’s been a little over a year, and um… JS: How long have you been on the Avenue? Marion: Off and on for, about, 13 years. JS: Can you tell me a little bit about how you got started? Marion: I went into rehab, for, like, snorting cocaine, taking oxies, perks, and I met people that did dope and smoked crack, and, you know, like, one thing led to another, and I was just, I was, I wanted to try it, and I did. But, you know, I sniffed dope, I didn’t shoot it at the time, but it only took a few months before, you know, I started shooting it. But, yea, a guy had introduced me to it, and um, I did dope for a couple months and then I started, you know, smoking crack and then that led into shooting coke, and its like one thing led to another and it just progressed. And then, I, um, I was born and raised around here, so I already knew about Kensington Avenue. JS: What did you know about it? Marion: Well I know the prostitution, stuff like that. You know, I, I’ve known about that since I was young. But I was never exposed to it. I grew up down Fishtown. I never came over this side until I started getting high. And then, you know, once you started prostituting and you figure out how quick you get that money, that was it. It’s been a struggle ever since… JS: So the last time I talked to you, you said you were working on getting clean. Marion: Ummm… I mean, I, I’ve been taking Suboxone. I got, I finally detoxed. I went down the Poconos on, um, over Christmas vacation, but um, like I used a couple times but it’s just not worth it. So, you know, like I, I used the other day, and it’s just, it’s not worth it. But, you know, I still get high; I still smoke rock…
Carol, under the El, Kensington and Cambria, 2011. Excerpt from the book below. Carol: You know, it’s just wild, you know, and I turn back to it knowing that the pain and suffering that I…that I endured from it, you know? You know, I’ve aged so…when people say, “no, dope preserved you”…Dope didn’t preserve me; they would, like, never believe I was forty-one. Yeah, I do, and I feel older than that, believe me when I tell you like, it’s not a game, you know. You’re playing Russian Roulette, but the gun is loaded; there’s not only one bullet in there. #kensingtonblues #kensington #addiction #documentary #largeformatphotography #jeffreystockbridge #philadelphia #northphilly #streetphotography
Pat and Rachel, 2012. "Just cause we’re addicts and we’re on the street and stuff doesn’t mean that we don’t know what’s going on like in the world and like with the way the economy’s going and everything else… Like, because of like of my past and everything it’s not like I’m gonna go right to the top of the ladder… why go through all that crap sober?" Listen to Pat and Rachel tell their story at kensingtonblues.com Link in profile. #kensingtonblues #kensingtonbluesbook #jeffreystockbridge #largeformatphotography #documentaryphotography #portraitphotography #drugaddiction #addiction #prostitution #kensington #survival
Bobby, 2010. I met Bobby and the rest of his crew, known as the D Street Boyz, on the abandoned Lehigh viaduct above Kensington Avenue. Bobby spent 18 years in jail for selling drugs and collecting money that was owed to him. In a follow-up interview in 2013 he writes, "We talk about that to try to bring back some good times because there is no good times out here no more."
Tekst: Jagoda Ciesielska