There seems to be a cross cultural belief that places can hold memories. Look at Gettysburg, Ground Zero, Mount Vernon, and other places that people go to to try and connect some way with the past. There's some power we tap into when we are able to say "This is where it happened." -- some identity of person and place confused.

The idea to photograph scenes of murders in Philadelphia came to me slowly. As a child, my suburban New Jersey hometown was ripped apart when a robbery and murder took place in the center of town. Since then, I've moved to a city which has had more than four hundred murders a year in recent history. And the wave of violence seems to affect people in general rather than specific. Indeed, not all of the murders are written about by the newspapers, some are relegated to a single line in a long list at the end of the year, others fill page after page of the newspapers.

It's often maddeningly difficult to discover if a suspect has later been arrested or the status of any investigation. Our interest is front loaded -- there's shock when it happens, especially if it happens in a place we frequent, but after a few days it fades, and two years later, nearly all but those involved have pushed it from memory.

This was to serve as my own reminder of lost lives in a city threaded with violence.

Murders in Philadelphia by year:

1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
292 319 309 288 348 330 377 406


[echoes of life] [home]