October 14, 2016 Photographer Camilo José Vergara to Discuss "Tracking Time: Twin Towers and Motor City," Nov. 1

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Mari Nakahara, (202) 707-2990

Camilo José Vergara, who has spent a career photographing the evolution of poor, minority neighborhoods in New York, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana and California, will discuss his work concerning two of these locales—lower Manhattan and Detroit—at the Library of Congress.

His lecture, “Tracking Time: Twin Towers and Motor City,” will start at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 1, in the Mary Pickford Theater on the third floor of the James Madison Memorial Building. Tickets are not required for this event, which is free and open to the public. A book signing for Vergara’s latest book, “Detroit Is No Dry Bones,” will follow.

The event is hosted by the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division, which holds the photographic archive of Vergara. More than 5,000 of his “selected best” photographs are housed in the division. For an overview of the collection and to view a selection of the images, please visit loc.gov/rr/print/coll/camilo-vergara-photographs.html.

In Vergara’s pre-2001 photographs of New York City’s low-income communities, the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers were often visible on the distant Manhattan skyline. The pictures showed struggling neighborhoods, gritty railroad yards and lonely vacant lots in the foregrounds, and beyond, skyscrapers that represent a different world. As the new World Trade Center complex of super-tall, glassy buildings began to rise, Vergara continued to document the evolving skyline.

In Detroit, during the past 25 years, Vergara has documented both the city’s decline and the ways that its remaining residents, largely African Americans, have adapted to the shrinking city. From the 1970s through the 1990s, much of the built urban environment was erased through neglect, demolition and abandonment. In the past decade, Detroit has seen the beginnings of a revival, and Vergara’s latest book, “Detroit Is No Dry Bones,” documents this transformation.

Vergara became the first photographer to receive the National Humanities Medal, which was awarded by President Barack Obama in a ceremony at the White House in 2013. He was named a Berlin Prize Fellow in 2010 by the American Academy in Berlin and a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 2002. Born in Chile in 1944, Vergara received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s in sociology from Columbia University.

Additional books by Vergara include “Tracking Time—Documenting America’s Post-Industrial Cities” (2014); “Harlem: The Unmaking of a Ghetto” (2013); “How the Other Half Worships” (2005); “Subway Memories” (2004); “Unexpected Chicagoland” (2001); “Twin Towers Remembered” (2001); and “American Ruins” (1999). For more information about Vergara’s photography, visit camilojosevergara.com (external link).

The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division holds more than 15 million photographs, drawings and prints from the 15th century to the present day. International in scope, these visual collections represent a uniquely rich array of human experience, knowledge, creativity and achievement, touching on almost every realm of endeavor: science, art, invention, government and political struggle, and the recording of history. For more information, visit loc.gov/rr/print/.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov, and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.


PR 16-184
ISSN 0731-3527