Graphic Arts Books The Debt Project: 99 Portraits Across America
Graphic Arts Books The Debt Project: 99 Portraits Across America

The Debt Project: 99 Portraits Across America

By Brittany M. Powell

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Finalist for the 2015 and 2016 Dorothea Lange/Paul Taylor Prize in Documentary
Featured on PoliticoThe Washington PostThe Daily Mail, and The Huffington PostUSA TodayBusiness InsiderRefinery29, and Fast Company


Based on the popular online photo series and now published in print for the first time, The Debt Project collects 99 portraits of debt across the US, featuring people of all different backgrounds and stories, to recontextualize an often stigmatized experience.


In 2013, Brittany Powell made the difficult decision to file for bankruptcy for her photography business. In the years following the 2008 economic collapse, she found herself in a significant amount of debt, a position many Americans across the country still share, a common yet isolating and private experience often steeped in shame.


Her personal experience, bolstered by the We Are the 99% slogan that came out of the Occupy movement, brought her to start The Debt Project, an exploration of the role debt and finance plays in our personal identity and social structure. This book presents an intimate look into 99 different lives: each shares an arrestingly honest portrait in the person’s home, surrounded by all their belongings, accompanied by a handwritten note of the amount of debt that person is in and the story behind the numbers.


The Debt Project, with a foreword by writer and filmmaker Astra Taylor plus resources at the back of the book to support people in debt, examines the social and personal hold financial debt has on us and invites others into a private world, while at the same empowering people to share their stories and overcome the shame they may feel.


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