For a generation now, the tabloids and Hollywood have helped create an appalling public image of New Yorkers who live in the city's 334 public housing projects. Focusing on crime, disrepair and other ills that plague these islands of red brick, such portrayals have tarred perpetrator and victim alike, ironically making it all too easy for federal and local government in turn to reduce the subsidies the projects have relied on since their birth eighty years ago -- worsening conditions further yet, as the buildings try to soldier on past their intended life, at times crumbling around the 400,000 tenants. What if the project residents had the tools and training to document their own lives? And the opportunity to share the result'a Project Lives atakes you on a remarkable journey into a New York City turned inside out, where the camera's subject becomes the storyteller. Participatory photography, of which this marks one of the largest efforts anywhere, comes the closest to creating a new visual medium, a universal language speaking across borders and cultures.a By using their cameras to show us a world worth preserving, not to say improving, the courageous souls who set out on a daunting mission to change how Americans see, and therefore support them may accomplish more than helping preserve their homes.
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