Climbing the Walls - Suburban Anthropology - Moira Trachtenberg

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Suburban Anthropology: Cocooning in a Time of Covid-19
created by Moira Trachtenberg and Todd Shapera

A visual poem, stumbled upon….
In streets emptied of humans
But stacked with hints….
Of life within

Our project, “Suburban Anthropology: Cocooning in a Time of Covid-19," started with an eerily quiet dog walk through Pleasantville, New York, one morning in June. There were no people on the sidewalks and the only hints of life within the homes we passed. There were cardboard artifacts piled at the curb for recycling. Each boxy assemblage prompted questions about, and gave clues to, how we are living now. What do we need to survive, work, go to school within our homes? How do we find comfort and perhaps even flourish under lock down? How do we nourish our young, preserve our well-being and stay sane? We decided on a whim to document the images, only to find we were racing the garbage truck to record the clues to the stories before they disappeared. Our unobtrusive, but, admittedly, unusual activity alerted a concerned homeowner, who called the police. Fortunately, the two responding officers listened to our explanations, saw that we hadn’t been trespassing, and left us to seek understanding in these street-side artifacts. Surprise texts emerged as we worked with the images, revealing stories beneath the story: a subtext of tension between fear and bravery, illness and healing, fragility and strength, confinement and love of home. Adding motion to our still images allowed us to investigate the texts as well as the broader perspectives of artifacts we observed.

Moira Trachtenberg
is a poet, fiction writer and visual artist. She is honored to be a multi-year participant as a poet in HVMOCA’s "Writing the Walls." She works as a teaching artist with The Community-Word Project which reaches students in underserved NYC schools and libraries, and she is the former president of the Katonah Poetry Series Executive Committee. Her award-winning poetry has been published in literary journals including Carve, Tikkun and Kyoto Journal. She holds an MFA in fiction from the NYU Creative Writing Program.

Todd Shapera is a global photojournalist who has written and photographed from over 57 countries, from China’s Yangtze River to Canada's Yukon.  Todd supports his social documentary projects by photographing weddings, mitzvahs and events in the Hudson Valley, Westchester County, and the greater tri-state region.  In a profile, Professional Photographer magazine wrote: "Todd Shapera is driven by a passion to capture the inner beauty and resilience of individuals just about everywhere on earth. He is linking disparate worlds through photography.”

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