City Under One Roof

“Whittier occupies a crescent moon of shoreline, ringed in mountains and bordered by the sea. Barring arrival by boat or small plane, a single-lane tunnel is the only way to cross the tight ring of peaks. . . . Hours here have a small town’s drawling density, not timeless but time-heavy. Minutes stretch out like mountain ranges, beautiful and frightening and impossible to escape. Everyone’s got a tall tale to make them pass. I’ve been told the police used to exile men by making them walk through the tunnel. I hear there’s a goldmine across the bay. It’s all true or it’s all false, and all of it matters: how anyone came to live in this unlikely land, how this city of no city came to be. Every night the tunnel closes, leaving Whittier isolated from the rest of the world until morning.”

The 2013 Dorothea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize was awarded to American photographer and writer Jen Kinney for City Under One Roof,her project on Whittier, Alaska. Jen, a 2012 graduate in photography and imaging from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, combined writing and photographs, oral histories of year-round or part-time Whittier residents, and archival documents and photographs to explore shared spaces in a town she describes as an “unlikely crossroads of community and solitude, isolation and claustrophobia.”

CDS Shortwave Spotlight: Jen Kinney