PHOTOGRAPHY | Black valley

Monday 28 March 2011

Darcy Padilla's breathtaking black and white photographs from 'The Julie Project' are some of the most beautiful images I've ever seen, but they are also heartbreaking, harrowing and frighteningly blunt. They were taken over a period of eighteen years between February 1993 and September 2010, detailing the life and death of a young woman in San Francisco named Julie; abused child, alcoholic, drug addict, mother and AIDS sufferer, as well as her partners through the years and children born to them.

Having first got drunk with her mother aged six, Julie was abused by her stepfather, ran away aged fourteen and became an addict at fifteen. She gave birth to six children: Rachel, Tommy, Jordan, Ryan, Jason Jr and Elyssa. She was jailed for the kidnap of one of her children from the hospital, having failed a drug test, and lost all her children save Elyssa. She lost the father of her first child, Jack (who infected her with HIV) to AIDS, aged twenty-seven. Her second long-term partner was jailed for beating her son.

She found some happiness with her third long-term partner, Jason, although suffering from HIV and mental health problems, and she enjoyed a non-abusive and caring relationship with him. Her long-lost father found her; she lost him to a heart attack. She met her son Jason Jr for the first time aged six, and moved to Alaska with her family, where she died aged thirty-six.

Padilla says of The Julie Project:

This type of story plays out constantly in the world for many, many families. The pieces slip away or no one cares to remember the details. We see the summation of cause and effect in a homeless face on the street every day. It can be too complicated, uncomfortable and painful to ask why.

I hope you can’t stop thinking about Julie’s story, I hope it makes you feel.
I hope it makes you look at the world differently.

1 comment:

  1. heartbreaking. thanks for sharing these - i had not heard of the photographer before.