hotel-view

 

Photographing downtown today with a class of refugees (DRC, Afghanistan, Myanmar) I grew embarrassed by how much pedestrian space in Denver appears to be privately owned and aggressively policed; on in any case that was the bluster. We’d find ourselves on an empty square — maybe some tables, umbrellas, a small lunch crowd — something ’80s-style brutalist, with grand Romanian squares of empty protecting private erections. I’d tell my students to work on shots of converging lines, shots that isolate a color, shots of things that frighten them. Instantly, restless uniforms bore down on us: “no please, no photograph. This is private, please stop. You cannot.” More than likely refugees themselves, regardless of where they were born. Each time I bristled and each time I talked myself back down, albeit gradually. They were doing their jobs, we were doing our jobs; none of us were in charge of anything.