At the Silvereye Center for Photography on East Carson Street, No Job No Home No Peace No Rest, an installation byWill Steacy, showcases an interpretation of modern America through wall-sized collages of newspaper clippings, his own journal entries and photos, and remnants of what is presumed to be his own consumption. Current and past events are depicted in the personage of the dashed, the beaten, and the hopeless state of mind that has become that of the American in the modern world. This is a portrait of the thoughts of a downtrodden American dreamer.
In the corner of the room, the collage starts with the words “Down These Mean Streets. Will Steacy.” What follows are the declarations of his reasoning. Newspaper clippings advertise tragedy in the woes of the modern American. His proposal of the today retorts that the everyday reality is a product of what is given to us through the sensationalized media. By pairing media portrayal with pages torn from his own diary and photographs he has taken, his view on the rupture of the ruggedly individualistic American is revealed in his emotionally wrought musings. Complete with arrows depicting his thought process, he diagrams how he might conceptualize certain historical events or the way America’s economy works. These musings are placed purposely next to articles about fiscal deficit or war. Three packs of Newman cigarettes are pinned underneath a ripped section of a tax return form.
In the back room, photographs, some incorporated into this collage, are shown in a more traditional manner. Scenes of derelict USA become serene through the framing of a shot, his portraits of people across the nation attempt to capture a gritty side to the land of the beautiful.
One most striking photograph is a portrait of a woman, Valerie, in Atlantic City. It is the only portrait in the exhibition that is not perfectly in focus; the left side of her face is somewhat blurred, and she is squinting one eye against something coming at her from the left: wind, or light. Her hair is pulled tightly back, and her lips are just beginning to open. The expression on her face is hard to pinpoint. She seems to be looking at the photographer, perhaps questioning what on earth he might be doing, or his character. She is blurry, yet out of all the portraits she seems the most real. It is as if she had somehow managed to just barely escape with safeguarding her identity and her emotions. What is left is an imprint of her color, her blurry, windswept expression, and her blank stare.
One can easily sink into Down These Mean Streets at any point. There is no beginning and no end to the events portrayed in the exhibition. It is rather circular and unreadable chronologically. After a while of looking at the photographs in particular, it becomes questionable what it is that can and should be aestheticized. Through photographing the derelict inner city nighttime neighborhoods of the USA, Steacy is capturing a night world usually left alone and purposely avoided.