pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out: Occupy Chicago

08 October 2011

Occupy Chicago

Chicago, Illinois
7 October 2011

In college, I took a class on the literature and film of the 1960s. I was born into the 1960s, and came of age in the 1980s, so obviously missed the social and political foment of that tumultuous time. And I felt that I needed to have some understanding of that decade to better comprehend what I was inheriting as an adult 20 years later.

Of all the movies we watched in that class and of all the books we read, the movie that made the deepest impression on me was Haskell Wexler's Medium Cool. The use of the very real protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago as a backdrop for part of a fictional film was quite audacious, particularly for a film that addresses the responsibilities of the media.

I've been following the protests that started with the Occupy Wall Street movement a few weeks back. It's very interesting to me that the mainstream media has very stringently avoided covering the protests, but I've been watching it unfold since the beginning via Twitter--where else? In fact, I've heard nothing at all on the news until this morning, sitting at O'Hare airport with CNN blaring in the departure lounge.

So here we are. I went down to La Salle and Jackson yesterday, where the sidewalks were barricaded in front of the Chicago Board of Trade and the Federal Reserve. There was a police presence and a protester presence. Both groups were low-key: the police watchful and the protesters quiet, holding their placards, not gathering in huge numbers at any one point. There was an air of tension, but not the frightening electrical sort of tension that I've seen precede an outbreak of violence. Wary, yes, but also respectful.

The medium is the message. The media is choosing not to document this, and I felt a responsibility to do so. One of the points of this blog has been to capture moments in time; it is those stories that interest me.

She was a moment in time. Protest, costume, photograph. The medium is the message.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, ambient light. Important things to note: I requested permission from the subjects before I took any close-ups of protesters. I've got some group shots as well. These were not intended to be portraits so much as quick and dirty snapshots. I did not ask for names. Their faces are unique and their stories belong to them. I was more interested in them in the larger context of the moment. And an update: apparently the game changed while I was out of town, and now there are more stories in the print media.

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