About the Photographer
American, b. 1947
Even though my desire as an artist is to make the photographic images beautiful as works of art, they are actually only the by-product of the process involved in the project. I'm much more interested in the video and the conversation/debate/argument that the two forms of visual representation have the potential to create.
– Barbara DeGenevieve
Barbara DeGenevieve's signature is engaging taboo topics to promote public discussion, and The Panhandler Project is no exception. Begun in 2004 and completed in February of 2006, The Panhandler Project includes photographs of homeless men posing nude and a 50 minute DVD documenting those photo-shoots. The photographer compensated each of the five men involved in the project with $100, new clothing, meals, and a one-night stay in the hotel room which had served as the shooting location. Yet the interaction evokes much more than a business transaction. Along with issues of class, race, nudity, and sexuality inherent in its subject matter, this project also addresses the particularly photographic concerns of objectification and responsible representation. The tension between collaboration and exploitation is at least partly a matter of media. While the photographs confront the viewer with an isolated figure in a sensual posture, the video (including an instance where the model turns the camera around to interview the photographer) presents the subjects as active and opinionated.
DeGenevieve holds an MFA in photography from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque (1980) and has taught at the School of the Art institute of Chicago since 1994. She was awarded a grant and residency at the Pingyao International Photography Festival in Pingyao, China in 2004; Illinois Art Council Artists Fellowships in 1987, 1996, and 2000; and National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists Fellowships in 1988 and 1994, though the latter was revoked by the National Council on the Arts. Her work is in the collections of the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; Seattle Museum of Art; University of New Mexico Fine Arts Museum, Albuquerque; Arizona State University, Tempe; State of Illinois Art Acquisition Collection, Chicago; and Center for Creative Photography, Tucson.