Californian-born Matt Black
builds an Instagram account
of his own version of America, the America of marginalized communities. A blog
on Magnum Photos, introduces the project.
“Matt Black deconstructs the myth of America as a land of opportunity, finding that poverty is deeply woven into the fabric of society. Since 2014, the work has taken him on four cross-country trips over 80,000 miles, photographing communities in 46 states.
‘It could have just as easily been called The Geography of Power,’ Black says, soon after returning from his fourth trip, which lasted nine months. ‘It’s something much more complicated than economics; it’s about social power. Who gets their needs met and who doesn’t?”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 12.7% of Americans — or 40 million people — live in poverty. To Black, poverty is not really a question of economics but a lived experience of power.
How do you make visible something ingrained in the very fabric of our society?
“46 million people living in poverty in the U.S. since year 2000. The number of people living in communities of concentrated poverty has doubled,” Black states in a YT video post
by the Pulitzer Center.
From the epicenter of rural California, Black enriches his photographic essay with maps allowing his 288,000 followers to trace his journey. His field-based investigations paired with data journalism build evidence of endemic poverty at a social scale that debunks most pre-conceived ideas. Poverty is not operating in isolated, fragmented and disconnected zones in America but ingrained in the very roots of the country.
On his Instagram account, Black shares his journey with a red line on a map and directly addresses his audience: