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Matinee: 'The Shutdown' by Jeffrey Ross Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

30 May 2020

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 346th in our series of Saturday matinees today: The Shutdown, Portraits of Empty Spaces by Jeffrey Ross.

In this 3:25 piece first broadcast on Naperville News 17, correspondent Justin Cornwall talks to photographer Jeffrey Ross about his portrait series The Shutdown.

As Ross says himself, there have been a lot of photographic projects focused on the Covid-19 shutdown. But he finds it inspiring that the creative community has responded imaginatively to what can only be described as a difficult time.

And we find his approach to a these portraits particularly inspiring.

Although it's a portrait series, it isn't the people themselves that caught our attention. It was Ross's placing them in the empty venues they would normally have been working in filled with people.

You'll see city council meeting rooms, churches, bars, offices, theaters and more in this set of portraits. All of them empty. Except for the one person posing in them.

What's notably about that in this season of Zoom, FaceTime and Skype broadcasting is, in fact, those backgrounds, those settings.

In Ross's monochrome shots, they are elegant if poignant statements about the roles we play in society rather than the peeks at the personal life of so many coworkers and correspondents we are seeing as they broadcast from home.

Ross was moved by the stories of each of these people, none of whom know what will become of them and their venues. So he wrote them down at each shoot.

The portraits themselves are being published one at a time on the firm's Facebook page but when complete the set will be donated to the Naperville Settlement, the town's outdoor 19th century living history museum.

Naperville is just 28 miles west of Chicago. "The city's diversified employer base features high technology firms, retailers and factories, as well as small and home-based businesses," its Web site boasts.

Among the small businesses is Ross Creative Works, owned by Ross and his wife Catherine (whose official title is "Person in Charge of all Paperwork"). "It makes sense that a graphic designer from North Dakota and a photographer from Florida would manage to set up shop in the middle ground of the Midwest," they explain on their Web site.

And, as this piece shows, they are an integral part of their community.

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