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The Debt Project is a photographic and multimedia exploration into the role Debt plays in our personal identity and social structure.
The Debt Project is a photographic and multimedia exploration into the role Debt plays in our personal identity and social structure.
170 backers pledged $11,726 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$11,726

170

UPDATE: I reached my goal!! THANK YOU to everyone who supported the Debt Project! The 11K was my minimal budget, but I would like to travel to some RURAL AREAS to photograph subjects as well, so please keep the donations coming. I promise they will not go to waste!

to see more, please visit www.thedebtproject.net

The subject of Debt is a loaded one — it explores issues of identity, morality, class, politics and psychology. After a period of under employment following the 2008 economic crash, I filed for bankruptcy in 2012. That experience inspired me to investigate the role debt can play in our identity and how we relate to the world. Debt is publicly enforced and highly stigmatized, but is almost always privately experienced. It is in many ways an abstract form without material weight or structure, yet with heavy physicality and burden in a person’s everyday life. 

I began this project by asking subjects to sit for a formal portrait in their home, surrounded by their belongings, and answer a series of questions on camera about their debts. I also asked them to handwrite the amount of debt they are in and the story behind it. These “stories of debt” are displayed separately from the photographs as a group including all of the project's participants. The recorded interviews will be edited to make up the audio portion of the project. 

Debt Portrait #12, Richmond, CA
Debt Portrait #12, Richmond, CA
Debt Stories
Debt Stories

PROJECT STATUS: 

At present, I have photographed 25 people in the San Francisco Bay Area, the New York City metro area, and Portland, Oregon and surrounding towns. A selection of the work has been exhibited in the Bay Area seven times to date, was included in the Murphy Cadogan Contemporary Art Award exhibition, and it was the recipient of the jury selection in the show Cover to Cover: A Survey of Photo Books at SF Camerawork in the summer of 2013. On October 22nd I will travel to Detroit to spend three days shooting new participants and hearing their stories. 

http://www.sfgate.com/art/article/Murphy-and-Cadogan-Exhibition-Emerging-artists-4787429.php

Debt Portrait #20, Portland, OR 2014
Debt Portrait #20, Portland, OR 2014

PROJECT GOALS: 

In order to obtain a more complete representative portrait of debt and how it affects Americans, it is necessary to photograph in every part of the country. My goal is to photograph 99 people across the US, in order to bring people together to re-contextualize an abstract, often shamed experience. It is my hope that by having a platform to discuss this issue, it will encourage the viewer and participants to question and reframe our perception of Debt and how we contribute to its power and role in our social structure. 

For the last two years, the Debt Project has been primarily a self-funded endeavor, with a small grant from the Puffin Foundation. I would like to travel to five additional locations, and in April, the work will be exhibited as a part of my MFA Thesis exhibition at San Francisco State University. Several other galleries have expressed an interest in exhibiting the work and my hope is that it will continue on as a traveling exhibition and future book publication. 

THE GOAL OF 11K WILL FUND: 

Audio post production-While I’ve spent the last two years tackling the world of video editing, through this project I learned that sometimes handing things off to a professional is the way to go!!! 

Travel Fees to 5 locations- Folks, these are meager fees…I would not be staying in 4 (or even 3) star hotels, flying first class, or any of the like. These funds will pay primarily for flights, rental car, minimal assistant and participant fees. 

Printing and Framing: This is unfortunately one of the greater expenses. Framing is expensive, and while my plan is to use simple,  white wooden frames, without mats, for 25 large (portraits) and 25 small (stories), it adds up!

HOW YOU CAN HELP: 

I only have 30 days to reach my goal! Donate early and help spread the word to all your friends.  Every dollar donated puts me one step closer to finishing this project.  It's ALL OR NOTHING on Kickstarter- if I don't reach my goal, I get $0!

BUILD BUZZ:

  • Tell friends.
  • Post on Facebook
  • Tweet it.
  • Blog it.
  • Visit the website: www.thedebtproject.net
  • Subscribe to the mailing list by emailing: brittany@brittanympowell.com
  • Forward emails

DONATE:

If all my friends donated just ten dollars each-I'd be so close!  Crowd-funding is about the accumulative power of small amounts. Every dollar you give contributes to a very important conversation that has been neglected in our society until recently. 

THANK YOU: 

Your support is critical to the success of this project and its wide dissemination. I am so grateful to everyone for their involvement and participation, and especially to my brave subjects.  One of the most rewarding parts of this process has been the wonderful feedback from participants about how liberating it was to have an open platform to discuss their experiences.  Thank you.     -Brittany

Debt Portrait #1, San Francisco, CA 2013
Debt Portrait #1, San Francisco, CA 2013
Debt Portrait #4, San Francisco, CA 2013
Debt Portrait #4, San Francisco, CA 2013

Risks and challenges

The biggest challenge of the Debt Project will be completing all of the 99 photo shoots and interviews and keeping all of the media organized. Each person's story is both unique and important and logging and editing every interview in order to extract the most poignant part of the conversation is a big job! I am confident that I can complete this project and the funding will help me tremendously to do that in an organized and efficient way.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    A HUGE THANKS and your name will be included on the website as a supporter. Every dollar helps!

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    A HUGE THANK YOU, demonstrated in both my extreme gratitude, a thank you card, and as a credit on the website and in all printed publication accompanying the exhibition or distribution of the project.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    8X12in limited edition print of your choosing from this project (limited to 1 per each subject). Your name will be included on the website, and in all printed publication accompanying the exhibition or distribution of the project. SO MUCH appreciation and gratitude!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    One 8X12in print of a photo from my commercial site: www.brittanympowell.com

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    16X20in limited edition print of your choosing from this project (limited to 2 per each subject). Your name will also be included on the website, and in all printed publication accompanying the exhibition or distribution of the project. THANK YOU!

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    One 16X20in print of a photo from my commercial site: www.brittanympowell.com

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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    A 20X30in limited edition print of your choosing from this project (limited to 3 per each subject). Your name will also be included on the website, and in all printed publication accompanying the exhibition or distribution of the project. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Two hour private surf lesson, equipment included! Many of you know I moonlight as a surf instructor, so come take a lesson with me! The best time to learn to surf here is in the spring or summer, so lessons will be scheduled then.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    One 20X30in print from my commercial site: www.brittanympowell.com
    Your name will also be included on the website, and in all printed publication accompanying the exhibition or distribution of the project.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    Two hour portrait session, printing not included. Need a new headshot? A holiday portrait? An engagement session? Or just want a beautiful portrait of your friend, family member or pet?

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    Pledge $450 or more About $450

    20X30in limited edition beautifully FRAMED print from the exhibit (limited to 1 per subject). Shipping not included.
    Your name will also be included on the website, and in all printed publication accompanying the exhibition or distribution of the project.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    WOW! A 30X40in limited edition print of your choosing from this project (limited to 1 per subject). Shipping not included.
    Your name will also be included on the website, and in all printed publication accompanying the exhibition or distribution of the project.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Limited edition 8X12 print portfolio of 33 artist selected portrait prints from the Debt project, hand printed and signed. Your name will also be included on the website, and in all printed publication accompanying the exhibition or distribution of the project. A HUGE thank you.

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    Surf lesson, portrait session, and 1 limited edition 8X12 print portfolio of 33 artist selected portrait prints from the Debt project, hand printed and signed. Your name will also be included on the website, and in all printed publication accompanying the exhibition or distribution of the project.

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    Original, handmade, first and ONLY edition of the Debt Project book mock-up. The book includes the first ten portraits and stories from the project. This book won the jury selection in a photo book show at SF Camerawork in 2013. Email for photos. Your name will also be included on the website, and in all printed publication accompanying the exhibition or distribution of the project. A MASSIVE thank you.

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Funding period

- (30 days)