These pictures were taken on the outskirts of Portland, Maine in a particular wooded area of only a few square miles formerly known by some of Portland’s homeless population as ‘The Jungle’. Starting in 2000 I roamed the area that functioned as a dump, homeless shelter (usually devoid of any people during the day) and illicit playground for local youth. I returned four years later to find the land changed by an addition of a newly constructed off-ramp and many more semi-temporary living shelters. In 2006 construction crews began work on what is now the completed “Mercy Hospital” where my daughter was born in 2011.
Initially, I found the area interesting both for it’s surprising quiet, and for it’s darker connection to the struggles of the people who use it as home, drug store or escape. As I have returned there throughout the last twenty years I have begun to understand the landscape not just through the lens of geography or aesthetic inquiry but as inexorably intwined with my own story in a way that feels inevitable. This shift from public exploration to private expression mirrors what I see as the fundamental issue at stake in contemporary photography: No longer is it simply a choice between taking pictures of either what is “out there” or what is “in here”, but every corner of the physical world is assumed to be contaminated by the individual.