Jay Wolke

One of the most fascinating things about photography is how it ages. Not like any fine wine but it in some cases gets more brutal as we can distance ourselves from having to reflect on our current surroundings.
Jay Wolke, an early Chicagrapher if there ever was one, points us to a harrowing realization that our yesterday wasn’t all that far off. Jay makes documentary photographs in 3 projects that begin with ‘A’ but his most recent book, Along the Divide captures a stretch of the Dan Ryan expressway from the 1980’s here in Chicago. Standed motorists, burning cars, homeless underpass dwellers, and burnt amber apocalyptic sunsets image a modern city on the brink on the 21st century. We’d like to think this is another time and another place until we realize that 30 years later we’re looking at the same things.
Jay’s project also makes me think of Zoe’s, and it’s wonderful to think of something as simple as a stretch of highway can make foster a historical and anthropological investigation.


  1. Bill
    Posted April 10, 2007 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Also, Amy Stein’s Stranded series.

  2. Posted April 10, 2007 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    thanks for the images here Brian. i became aware of Jay through a used copy of Changing Chicago a while back. i intended to pick up a copy of Along the Divide when in was in Chicago in December. not sure why i didn’t- now i’ll have to.

  3. Posted April 13, 2007 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    there is a wolke image titled “night couple” i think that haunts my brain…thanks for reminding me of his work…great stuff.

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