Displacement

CompanyLinda Troeller
PhotographerLinda Troeller
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

I want to further visually investigate the homelessness in my home city New York. I am the single daughter of a disabled WWII veteran who experienced environmental damage and an eviction threat from the Chelsea Hotel landlord, and a house fire. I understand how homeless can feel the shame of rejection and not being a productive member of society - one of the deepest wounds of dysfunction is shame. Recently my photographs were reviewed in the Washington Post by Mark Jenkins, who wrote “Wherever Troeller takes her camera, it seems, she’s eyeing a sort of rapture.” These emotional, art oriented documents have the power to move viewers. My photographs had this power with the TB-AIDS Diary to elicit emotional response that brought tangible change: it stopped the stamping of “HIV” in passports of Finnish citizens, for example and these new photographs have this potential.

Story

I was a child of a disabled WWII veteran who did not receive enough compensation for his loss of most of his left foot to provide for us. My mother went to work and he stayed home to raise me. It was not usual then, and we suffered from shame. As a photographer I had not focused on veterans coming back from other wars, but recent tragedies changed my perspective. First, three years ago, the Chelsea Hotel where I lived for twenty years was sold and the new landlord put an eviction notice on my door. I fought the battle, but they strategically knocked down all the rooms on my floor as the other residents had left. My eyes started swelling from the tainted dust, I got rashes. My eye doctor and my family doctor urged me to move out, which meant - as it was a live-in hotel - I could not continue my court case. I survived that environmental damage and moved to a summer home while also transitioning to another apartment in NYC. Just some months later, in the middle of the night, I awoke with my hair on fire and swirling fire around me up to the ceiling sending out black smoke. I had no time to save anything, and my large archive of photography was burned, along with all possessions, cameras, printers. Some people helped me to move on, gave me a camera, clothes, and encouraged me. Homeless people most likely miss out on that. Now back in NYC living at the lower east side, I became very sensitive to the homelessness in my neighborhood. Soon I saw it in other areas too. Though there have been various projects on homelessness, I began to see a kind of layering and compassion in the pictures I brought into my computer.

About Photographer

Award-winning photographer, Linda Troeller has a new book, Living Inside the Chelsea Hotel, to be released by Schiffer Publishing, Pa. November, 2015, on her experiences during some of the lively years through demolition and renovation. She has been published by Aperture with Healing Waters, and powerhouse Books for Spa Journeys. Scalo published Erotic Lives of Women, 1998. Her new book is Orgasm: Photographs and Interviews, Daylight, 2013. She won Women of Achievement, Douglass College for Color Polaroid TB-AIDS Diary, A new film on her career "Inside the Frame: Linda Troeller, by Canadian filmmaker, Jeff McKay, won Honorable Mention in the NJ International Film Festival 2015.