Strangers in Boston
Photographer Jourdan Christopher captures the city’s unseen moments
Celina Colby | 11/9/2017, 6 a.m.
On Thursday, Nov. 2, Boston-based photographer Jourdan Christopher debuted his first solo exhibit at Craft and Caro in the Seaport District. The exhibit features his series “Strangers in Boston,” a curated selection of black-and-white portraits, many of them taken covertly as Christopher roamed the city.
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For more information about Jourdan Christopher and the “Strangers in Boston” exhibit, visit: www.jochristopher.com
Christopher grew up in Memphis, but he captures the highs and lows of every day Boston life like a native. “Strangers in Boston” revels in the little moments that go unnoticed and unappreciated. “I think the reminder to pay attention to the details is so important,” says Christopher. “So much is happening so fast. You blink and Trump is President. We need to open our eyes.”
The artist’s primary themes for the series are gentrification, age disparities and activism. On the political narrative, there are several photographs of protests. In one image, a black man stands in front of a marching crowd at a Black Lives Matter protest. The man engages directly with the viewer, in a moment of calmness despite the chaos around him. His arms are extended on either side of him like a crucifix. He will not let you look away.
“Activism has been a large part of my life,” says Christopher. “You can’t be a true street photographer and not feel something about what you’re seeing.”
Trains also play a sizable part in the series. They represent a transitory state of mind. Passengers are going somewhere, but that time on the bus or the train is a period of limbo. Christopher captures passengers in a cognitive suspension, shut off for the duration of the ride.
Though portraits dominate the exhibit, the series contains some evocative landscapes as well. In them, the viewer becomes the stranger, trespassing on Boston soil in an attempt to see it in a new way. Christopher says he never goes out to shoot with a specific subject in mind, but waits for the moment to seize him. “There’s so much you don’t experience if you go in with expectations,” he says.
Christopher began “Strangers in Boston” after a jolt of poetic inspiration. He also is a writer, and the line ‘Nowadays, most leaves fall in silence’ came to him one afternoon. “We’re all on the tree of life,” he explains. “We’re all falling, and I might be so concerned with myself that I don’t notice you’re falling right next to me.” In this series, Christopher captures the other leaves, looking outside himself at other journeys and encouraging us to do the same.