As I stepped through the Substrate Gallery at 709 Ridgewood Place (above Melrose), Los Angeles, CA, to view Canadian documentary photographer Ivory Day‘s collection, my friend blurted out a revelation, “It’s in the eyes.”
It’s true. There is a quality about Day’s subjects that are more than just ordinary portraiture. When you focus on them, you know what’s real. These people have a full awareness about themselves. It is a dialog happening now with the viewer; of a lost life, resigned and sad. Focusing on the least favorite of popular culture subjects, Day documents the deinstitutionalization of the severely mentally ill through a series of individual experiences of marginal people – Diane Arbus style.
Day’s intent with this series is to open a discussion of the topic and to raise awareness of lives affected by mental illness. It worked. I immediately fell into personal tales about the mentally ill family of friends and the state of affairs city by city. We have failed these people.
The project consists of thirty photographs taken in Canada, France and the United States with a short one-to-two sentence story or quote of each subject.
The entire body of work is open to the public and on view until May 15, 2014. And you should absolutely stop in for a look. Small commitment for a large impact.
Check out a few more photos at the Gia On The Move Facebook Page.