I have been working on this typological project since 2006, photographing over 700 Chicago buildings to conceptualise how investment and divestment have affected Chicago, segregating the city by race and class.
The physical isolation of residential and commercial buildings is a potent vehicle to explore inequality. A tension is exposed; the urban form clashes with the seemingly suburban, even rural, setting. My intention is to foreground this tension within each photograph and ask, “Why is this building isolated?”
Whether it is a pioneer or a survivor, built by gentrification or decayed by divestment, these buildings demonstrate how our built environments are rooted in inequitable investment cycles.
The context of COVID-19 and George Floyd’s murder has brought additional weight to this series as we collectively and individually confront the realities of institutional inequality.
David Schalliol is an Associate Professor of Sociology at St. Olaf College (Minnesota), interested in the relationship between people and place.
He is the author of Isolated building studies (UTAKATADO) and co-author with Michael Carriere of The City Creative (University of Chicago Press).
His work has been supported by the Graham Foundation and the European Union, and featured in publications including MAS Context, the New York Times and Social Science Research. David exhibits his photography widely and internationally, from Chicago to regional France.
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