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Streetnotes is a peer-reviewed journal for the interdisciplinary study of the city, its lifeways and social relations, with a special concern for the cultural and aesthetic forms that arise through its traffic.

Photo Essay

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Streetnotes 22 explores the Photo Essay today


Bank Street: A Photographic Essay

Bank Street is the major north-south artery in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada’s capital city. Named for its initial geographic proximity to the Ottawa River bank in the 19th century, the street now runs north from the city limits at Belmeade Road through various villages (Vernon, Spring Hill, Metcalfe, Greely, South Gloucester, Leitrum, and Blossum Park), north through multiple large neighbourhoods (Hunt Club, Alta Vista, Old Ottawa South, The Glebe, Centretown) to Wellington Street, home of Canada’s Parliament Buildings.

Almost every afternoon, I photograph a particular stretch of Bank Street from Third Avenue in The Glebe to Wellington Street near Parliament. This series of 25 street photographs is a product of these walks through the lens of a 1972 Canon Canonet rangefinder on inexpensive, often expired, color film. The photographs are presented in order of their location from the Bank Street intersection with Third Avenue, proceeding north toward the intersection with Laurier Avenue.

Honolulu, Oceanic Urbanism

The city of Honolulu is usually figured as Waikīkī, a global tourist playground often imaged/imagined as a tropical paradise with swaying palm trees and white, sandy beaches. Honolulu is also an urban center, surrounded and constituted by water, thus exhibiting an oceanic urbanism. This photo essay by photojournalist Jonathan Evangelista and anthropologist/Ethnic Studies scholar Roderick Labrador explores what this oceanic urbanism can mean by visually representing contemporary legacies of the 1920 Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, which set aside roughly two hundred thousand acres of Hawaiian homestead land that effectively created a reservation-type landscape in the islands, relegating and regulating Native bodies to contained spaces. Although the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act sought to “rehabilitate” Kānaka Maoli by returning them to the land, it primarily reinforced the colonial relationship between the United States and Kānaka Maoli and racialized Native Hawaiians through blood quantum regulations.


The photos are organized using the oceanic metaphor of sets, which are composed of groups of waves, which collectively form swells. In this case, these sets of photos would form a (global) south swell. Photos of Waikīkī are sandwiched by photos of two Hawaiian homesteads, Wai‘anae on the west side of O‘ahu and Waimānalo on the east side:

SET 1:



SET 2:



SET 3:




The photo/cards play with the idea of “home” and the various iterations and possibilities of home. Does the bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku reflect the erasure/exposure of the Native in this oceanic urbanism? What does “home” mean for dispossessed Natives in this global city? Where is “home” in these homesteads?

Manhattan’s "Dirty Urban Landscapes"

This photo essay can be read as a little impromptu itinerary of some of New York City’s still standing “Dirty Urban Landscapes”. It celebrates the streets of New York City as chaotic, anarchic palimpsests of overlapping cultural signs and traces of human enterprise. It celebrates the “messy vitality” (Venturi 1966) of everyday life in a city whose built landscape seethes with meanings.

  • 7 supplemental images

Field Notes: Beijing Markets

Few public spaces are more universally touted as representative of the parochialism of place than the market. What then does the narrative of a city’s markets tell us about narrative of place and space in that city itself? A field trip to some of Beijing’s markets becomes a meditation upon the role of markets in the construction of place in a 21st century urban context.

Creating Spaces of Transborder Play: Indigenous Mexican Migrants in California and the Game of Pelota Mixteca

This photo-essay documents the indigenous Mexican ballgame pelota mixteca and the way it is played by indigenous Mexican migrants in California. The focus is on the migrant experience, the role pelota mixteca plays in creating and maintaining transnational/transborder communities, whose members live on both sides of the Mexico/US border, and the way it creates spaces for these communities, in which they can perpetuate their own culture, in a country withever harsher immigration policies. It also explores the question of what the game means to future generations of players, who are starting to lose interest in the game, and the way that local promoters try to encourage youngsters to play the game in an attempt to secure its survival.

Offerandestraat: Experimenting with Flash Encounters with Strangers on Dress

What can you learn about a stranger on the street in under five minutes?  What are the best ways to begin a conversation with someone that could lend itself to more in-depth interviews, or quickly establish a small amount of trust interviewer and interviewee?  In this experiment, we find that asking strangers about what they are wearing is an effective and surprisingly intimate way to begin a dialogue with strangers on the street.  We further reflect on the methodological and creative issues which arose during the editing and presentation of this inter-discplinary collaboration.

Spaces: undergo. the parallels

In the spring of 2012, the exhibition project "undergo. theparallels" was held in ten underground passages in Tbilisi, Georgia'scapital. This project sought to achieve two direct goals, both practical andartistic.  The practical goal was toencourage Tbilisi-dwellers to use these underground passages more frequently. Theartistic goal was to confront the general public with unconventional ways ofperceiving art and its engagement.

Zagreb: Boxenwerk

Photographsof vitrines and display windows in Zagreb, Croatia, illustrating melancholy dreamscapeof consumption.

Prosperity Gospel: an excerpt

Excerpt from a photo essay on the effects of the Great Recession (2008-) in the rural counties of North Carolina, captured by the photography of Charter Weeks and in the stories of Keith Flynn.


These poems are inspired by Baudelaire’s original poetic image of the flâneur, the poet ambling through the Latin Quarter in Paris, absorbing the city’s increasingly rapid modernization. A crucial difference, however, is that these poems also play into the words of Michel de Certeau, who reminds us that there are (at least) two ways to “see” the city: through the minimizing and totalizing lens of aggregation, or as part of it, moving and swimming through the arteries of the city and letting the poignant smells and personalities stick to one’s skin. The photographs and collage elements of this piece attempt to marry these two views of the city in their interactions with and supplements to the text. Baudelaire had the keen sense to stay removed from his own poems; his speaker was imbued in the works, but rarely did he make a cameo appearance. I find that to do that in the city today would be impossible.

From Central to the World: A Day in the Life in Transit

This essay is a reflection on images, memory and movement in Rio de Janeiro’s railway space, inspired by the itinerant play based on Homer’s Odyssey In_Transit: Urban Odysseys, by the theater company Cia Marginal, staged in suburban trains leaving from Rio de Janeiro’s Central do Brasil station. The article explores the various devices staged in the show (protective goggles, memory helmets, headphones for images,…), and their relationship with the suburban space and the experience of displacement.  Da Central para o mundo: um diana vida em trânsito   Resumo:Este ensaio é uma reflexão sobre imagens, memóriae movimento no espaço ferroviário do Rio de Janeiro, inspirada pelo espectáculoitinerante In_Trânsito - Odisseias Urbanas, dogrupo teatral Cia Marginal. Mais particularmente, o artigo explora aexperiência de deslocamento no espaço suburbano carioca, em relação com osdispositivos de mediação encenados durante o espectáculo: óculos de proteção, capacetes de memória, escutadores de imagens.Estranhos, esses dispositivos parecem funcionar como instrumentos dedistanciamento, questionamento, e metaforização de uma realidade cotidianavivida por milhares de usuários das linhas ferroviárias do Rio de Janeiro. Palavras-chave:Espaço suburbano; Imagens; In_Trânsito- Odisseias Urbanas (Cia Marginal);Memória; Movimento; Rio de Janeiro