DOCUMERICA, and why don’t we do this anymore, part 1.

Posted by on Aug 8, 2011 in Gail Quagliata | No Comments

From 1971-1977, The Environmental Protection Agency employed nearly 100 freelance photographers to “photographically document subjects of environmental concern” around the United States. This ambitious (if ambiguous) project, which, to me seems so similar to the iconic photographic work undertaken by the “Information Department” of the Farm Security Administration from 1935-1944, yielded some amazing work that really should be seen more. The U.S. National Archives made much of the work available online, oddly, through its Flickr account. Here are some of the images taken by Michael Philip Manheim, whose 1973 assignment was “to document the noise pollution crises in the East Boston neighborhood around Neptune Road.” A bit of research reveals that the “noise pollution” in question was that produced by Logan International Airport, and that, nearly 40 years after Boston native Manheim was tasked with scrutinizing an aural problem with his camera, noise has beaten out humanity – the neighborhood is essentially vacant as the remaining homes were bought out and transformed into airport land.