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Kevin Downs –After Sandy


Kevin Downs is a photojournalist. He covers mainly local news, daily life, natural disasters, and the political and social realities of his community. The stories aren’t always red-hot, but they’re nonetheless corrosive , and the community is his own. 
More than two months after Sandy, the media frenzy has died down, the media requirements of a crazy planet on which incidents broke out constantly and everywhere have placed the event far away in the minds, like a vague anecdotal aftertaste. The long-term consequences of the storm receives little attention, they sound like a broken record, singing again and again about areas without electricity, unpaid insurance claims, deserted supermarkets, theft and violence. 
But this reality is news. It happens today. Kevin Downs returns regularly to Breezy Point and Staten Island, following a family with whom he spent the first nights of the storm in November, sitting in their darkened apartment. Some other time he looks for a gun-wielding woman who threatened to kill anyone that tries to loot the nearby homes or stores. Downs keeps documenting the reality of the situation when its media appeal fades faster than its impact on locals’ daily life.

The selection was deliberately made within the first batch of photographs, the ones that were shot at the most devastating point of the storm, featured today when one would be tempted to say that it is either too late or too early. This, in order to arouse interest in a needy neighborhood and to question the temporality and the codes of news photography. In the case of Kevin Downs, he is adapting the codes of photojournalism in classic compositions that turn the image into an icon: he is so close to his subject that some images almost adopt a fisheye distortion ; central elements – person, sculpture or other street sign – stand firmly in an environment where everything except them is rocking. Seen at this special time, some images have a bitter taste, like the promise of reconstruction of Breezy Point. For other reasons, these photographs continue to touch and encourage action. In their static costume, the images paradoxically follows the perpetual rhythm of events.

Laurence Cornet

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