Baltimore's reputation is defined by images of violence and neglect. In this series I photographed areas in which murders took place throughout the city. Over the last decade, Baltimore has had one of the highest murder rates in the United States. In 2007 there were 270 murders in Baltimore, five and half times the national average for a city its size. In this small city, the threat of violence is tangible and always present. Although, acts of violence happen every day, the city contains very few physical remnants of it. The cars are towed, the bodies buried and the glass swept up. And in this way, the city retains its sense of normalcy.
While completing my BFA in Photography at MICA, I spent a lot of time observing Baltimore. After four years of working and living in this city, I wanted to memorialize the individual incidents that take place on a daily basis. Since violence is such a vast and constant element in this city, we don’t often take note of the circumstances and the individual people affected by it. It becomes little more than a daily fixture in the newspaper. In photographing murder sites, I wanted to strip away the anonymity which Baltimore’s violence held.
I began by photographing murders that had taken place in or near my neighborhood in Remington. I then started to photograph murders that I could remember hearing or reading about. And in this way I set out to photograph the events that had, if ever so slightly, marked me personally. Yet there is something else that drew me to this work, the question of knowability. Experience has taught me that you never know what lies beneath a surface or behind a façade. Our sense of place and understanding photographs of the landscape are limited and fraught with misreading. Our experience of place is limited to our histories with them. In making these pictures I wanted to inject the idea of unknowabilty into the landscape, the sense that the daily world we live in, is tied to a long string of events and histories that on the surface of things are invisible.
T. J. Proechel