The Twin Cities' skyway systems were designed in the 1960s as civic ideals. They were celebrated as the pinnacle of urbanism in the upper Midwest, enabling pedestrians to traverse through the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul through climate-controlled footbridges. In 2018, with the convergence of policing and global capitalism, the skyways are reinforced by layers of private security. The tension represents the larger trend of public spaces becoming inceasingly privatized in American cities.
I had begun this project in the footsteps of Catherine Opie's environmental portrait series, Skyways and Icehouses (2000), where she reflected on the skyways as culturally-produced urban forms. I also intended to follow the work of Alec Soth's Sleeping by the MIssissippi (2004), thinking about traversing these seventeen miles fo tunnel — rather than the Mississippi River — as a distinctly American journey. However, repetitive encounters with private security guards determined where, and of what, I could make images. These security personnel are the curators of this collection.
photographs that security allowed me to make (2018) is an attempt to deconstruct the social and cultural meanings of the skyways through pre-approved fragments, literally seeing as security permits me to. This book contains images approved by security personnel, alongisde their words from when I asked whether I could photograph in the privately-owned spaces that they patrolled.
My experience is that of a white man and a college student with an expensive digital camera. This positionality is pertinent to my navigating these heavily policed spaces, and is embedded in the power dynamics I assume with different vantage points, as I replicate the tools of surveillance to highlight their absurdity.