A People's History of Pittsburgh
Embossed softcover / 5.25 x 6.5 in
B&W and color throughout
offset printed in Pittsburgh
Spaces Corners, 2015
Launched in April 2014, A People’s History of Pittsburgh invited the local community to share their personal photographs and stories online and at scanning events throughout the city. A wide range of photographic processes were submitted from large format black-and-white portraits dating as far back as the 1880’s to color polaroids of the 1970’s to camera phone photographs in the 2010’s. From 2014 to 2015, the project grew into a digital archive of over 1,500 images, illustrating the ways in which the conventions of snapshot photography are used to document ordinary, everyday lives while more broadly, attempting to unearth a city’s cultural history through the photographs of it’s inhabitants.
In the accompanying print publication, A People’s History of Pittsburgh: Volume One, editors Melissa Catanese and Ed Panar selected over two hundred images from the collective album, reinterpreting the collection into a seamless flow of images that cycle through common and often sentimental themes of domestic life - summer picnics, family suppers, sports outings, first kisses, and dance recitals. Generations of families and friends pose casually with their children, infants, and automobiles while steelworkers, miners, and business owners formally and proudly stand in front of their respective trades. Children read comics and ride bicycles while teenagers take to the streets or cruise along the rivers on a hot summer afternoon. The photographs, stripped of their original captions, take on new meaning. The book invites the reader to enter into these shared stories without knowledge of the who, what, when, and where -- to reimagine their own histories, and to consider that any history begins with what is revealed and what is hidden.
A People’s History of Pittsburgh is a project of the Hillman Photography Initiative at Carnegie Museum of Art whose first cycle investigates the life cycle of images: their creation, transmission, consumption, storage, potential loss, and reemergence. To learn more about the initiative and to explore the digital archive, visit www.nowseethis.org.