Over the course of seven years, from 1998 to 2005, Chicago photographer Jed Fielding made nine trips to Mexico City to take pictures at four schools for the blind. Using the directive “Look at me,” Fielding got his subjects to turn their faces to his voice; the resulting images draw attention to (and distinctions between) the activity of sight and the consciousness of form.
The photographs Fielding made in Mexico compose the new book from the Press Look at me and are currently on display at the Chicago Cultural Center through July 5.
Michael Weinstein writes of Fielding’s work in New City: “An eerie brutality that is not entirely sadistic yet is deeply unsettling haunts Jed Fielding’s lucid and shadowed black-and-white portraits of blind children in Mexico, whose expressions run a gamut from joy, through tranquility, sadness, bewilderment and awe, to outright horror. In all cases, the subjects’ emotions are sharply delineated, seeming to lack self-conscious control over their release, and conveying a sense of vulnerability, which, of course, is fitting.”
And Jen Hazen writes on Chicagoist.com: “Fielding’s human exploration of vision, perspective and vitality are captured by his acute detail to light and shadow, surface, and design, where documentary-style street photography meets portraiture. Some may feel that the aesthetics of Fielding’s photographs are disturbing, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? And maybe that notion should be questioned more often.”
Fielding’s work is also being exhibited concurrently at the Catherine Edelman Gallery through July 3. Jed Fielding: 30 Years in the Street assembles the photographer’s work from Naples and Mexico City. Writing on thechiguide.com, Ginny Berg notes: “His subjects (both young and old) gesticulate and flirt—showing defiance, playfulness & resilience, and revealing glimpses of lives frozen by Fielding’s camera. Fielding transports viewers to a very real and very gritty world that exists in our own time, far away from gallery openings and art shows.” You can watch a video of Fielding discussing his work at the Edelman Gallery here.