During an investigation of Detroit, I acquired a series of photographs from a retired former Detroit Police officer, Marty Gaynor, whom I began to interview weekly over a course of two years. Among his thousands of photographs were images that he had taken of criminals. By cataloguing, arranging, and interpreting his work, I gave it the parameters of an archive. I arranged Marty’s images to create documents in the format of a grid. Each grid was presented to Marty as a canvas for him to transcribe a narration for his images. I infiltrated and paired the grids with images I had taken during my investigation and interaction with Marty. My arrangements are designed to address the complexities of identity through narrative.
In the tradition of August Sander, I am drawn to typologies of people and how they work in society. My images focus on masculine archetypes and their connection to labor. I meet men, establish working relationships with them, and then excavate and catalogue their belongings to construct a record. My focus is to create social documentaries that expose the idiosyncratic nature of identity, occupation, and faith.
Sergeant Marty Gaynor: Systems of Identification, Occupation and Faith
I. Process and the Archive
II. Evidence from the Archive of Sergeant Marty Gaynor
III. Arresting the Artist - Investigative Roleplaying Exercises
“My days in Detroit came back to me yesterday while working at a friend’s gold shop. I was with a customer when she glanced out the door and said a guy was beating up an old man. I came from behind the bulletproof glass and observed a man and his wheelchair. He had been forced to the ground and was being beaten by a young thug for his money. I yelled and began to approach, the thug pulled a gun and pointed at me. I, of course, already had mine at the ready. I lied and yelled “police officer”, it’s been a while since I could say that. He ran, as we often say, “west between the houses and then unknown”. Actually it was between the buildings. The guy and his wheelchair then continued down Greenfield like nothing happened and would not wait for the police, as if they would come”.
Sergeant Marty Gaynor
copyright © 2014 Ben Schonberger