The Anacostia Community Museum seeks to be a gathering place for important conversations pertaining to urban communities. We devise our public programming and community forums with this goal in mind. This Sunday, September 18, we were pleased to present the work of two local photographers, Becky Harlan and Gabriela Bulisova, both members of the 501C3 non-profit, Women Photojournalists of Washington. Harlan and Bulisova have both been working for many years on the projects they presented.
Harlan’s project “D.C.’s Anacostia River” looks at the history of the Anacostia, from fertile native American fishing ground, to its status as a polluted river, the river keepers who take it upon themselves to maintain a better tributary, and the communities that have formed around the river. Below is a frame taken from her project, more work can be seen on her website here:
Gabriela Bulisova’s work Inside Outside and Convictions examines the lives of returning citizens, the formerly incarcerated, and the families left behind. According to the International Center for Prison Studies, the United States has the largest percentage of incarcerated people in its population in the world. Bulisova spent time getting to know returning citizen groups and the families of the incarcerated, making still photographs and short movies to record their experiences. She shared with us several short films which are accessible below and by going to Bulisova’s website here.
The discussion following the presentations was informed by the presence of several of the returning citizens with whom Bulisova has worked on her projects. They spoke to the administrative limbo many incarcerated DC citizens find themselves in because they are beholden to the laws of the federal system, even as in many states, sentences for many crimes, especially non-violent ones are being commuted or cut short. Because DC is not a state, prisoners find themselves trapped in a federal purgatory where they are literally stateless citizens.
The opportunity to hear an artist discuss her work will always further your understanding of the project. We are pleased at the Anacostia Community Museum to bring these conversations to you and hope you will join us in adding your voice to our community.