Matthew Bender, Eastwick XIII, 2021. Archival Pigment Print, Paper Size 8x10 inches, Image Size Slightly Smaller. Signed on the Verso. Pinhole Photographs of Former Industrial Sites. Lenses Constructed Using Site Specific Consumer Waste. Edition 10.
Matthew Bender writes of his work: "Each image was photographed at a former industrial site that has been repurposed for non-industrial usage by humans. Each image was made using a site-specifc pinhole lens constructed using a piece of consumer waste I found at that location. There are two locations represented here. The first grouping was photographed at a “blue hole”, in the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey. “Blue hole”is a local term for a flooded sand or gravel mining quarry which has taken on a distinctive turquoise hue due to high sulfur content. One in particular is purported to be the home of the mythical Jersey Devil of local folklore (and NHL fame). Many date to the late 18th century, when industry filled the woods throughout southern New Jersey. By the 1850s, this industry had largely disappeared, towns were abandoned, and the quarries were allowed to food. Today these bodies of water have become popular swim holes and party spots for locals, although their bottoms are still lined with dangerous industrial waste. The second was made in Eastwick, a Philadelphia neighborhood built largely on and around a former municipal landfill. Selected in the 1950s for a large urban renewal project, construction was halted in the 1970s with only 30% of the planned houses having been built. The residents who bought these homes were unaware of the site's former use; many got sick in the following decades. The EPA determined that much of the soil and groundwater around their properties had elevated levels of hazardous chemicals. The site was added to the Superfund National Priorities List (a list of the most highly polluted Superfund sites) in 2001, and is currently undergoing remediation. The choice to make photographs of former industrial sites with consumer waste references the personal relationship consumers have with land commodification and land use. By using site-specifc objects as the lenses with which these images are produced, human involvement with the landscape is directly responsible for the physical works. Without this human impact, the images themselves would not exist. Additionally, the pinhole process presents a defined visual layer for the viewer to consider."
Matthew Bender was born in Lancaster County, PA, and earned a degree from the Antonelli Institute of Photography in Philadelphia, PA. His work has been exhibited at Te Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Te University of the Arts, Te Grifn Museum of Photography, Te Perkins Center For the Arts, and Vermont Center for Photography, among other venues. He lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.