21st Annual Public Lecture: Camilo José Vergara

Thursday, October 27, 2005 - 4:30pm
Room 17, Logan Hall
"Images as a Source of Discovery: Camden 1975-2005"

The Urban Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania announces Camilo José Vergara, a New York based photographer and MacArthur Foundation Fellow as its 21 st Annual Public Lecturer. The lecture is entitled ‘Images as a Source of Discovery: Camden 1975-2005', and will take place October 27, 2005 at 4:30 PM in Room 17 of Logan Hall ( 249 South 36 th Street). The lecture is free and is open to the public.

Camilo José Vergara’s M.A. in Sociology from Columbia University helped to provide a direction for him as a photographer. Throughout his career, Vergara has explored the gradual erosion of the late 19 th and early 20 th century architectural grandeur in urban neighborhoods through photographs in neighborhoods of New York, Detroit,and Los Angeles. His work has also detailed the subsequent neglect and abandonment, and scattered efforts at rehabilitation of urban neighborhoods. In his documentation on the transition of urban areas, Vergara has utilized the disciplines of architecture, urban planning, history and anthropology.

Vergara’s strategy in documenting the erosion of time on urban neighborhoods is to photograph the same images and structures over time, sometimes even over the course of decades, in order to illustrate large scale and subtle changes to the visual landscape of cities throughout the United States. These photographs are therefore a valuable record of the survival and reformation of American cities.

The focus of Vergara’s lecture will revolve around one of his current projects, documenting the changes that have occurred in the urban areas of Camden, NJ and Richmond, CA over the last 30 years. He is undertaking this project in collaboration with historian Howard Gilette, Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities director and professor of history at Rutgers-Camden. Gilette's book, Camden After the Fall: Decline and Renewal in a Post-Industrial City, will be published later this year. Vergara’s photographs of Camden and Richmond can be viewed on the interactive website: http://www.camden.rutgers.edu~hfcy/intro.html or http://www.invinciblecities.com.

Other published works by Vergara include: The New American Ghetto (1995), American Ruins (1999), Twin Towers Remembered (2001), Subway Memories (2004), and his most recent book, How the Other Half Worships (2005).