American Origami (20013-2019)


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American Origami is the result of six years of photographic research, and results in a statement of over 700 photographs which closely examines the epidemic of mass shootings in American schools. The project includes first person interviews, forensic documents, and press materials, as well as original photographs and texts. The varied elements repeat and fold into each other, illuminating relationships between myth-making, atonement, and collective healing. The book is bound in a unique way, creating a parallel world of the past and the present, showing the silenced landscape interwoven with the personal artifacts created by those left behind. The monograph has been co-published by Fw:Books and Light Work and received the 2019 Light Work Photo Book Award.

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At the end of it all, the police worked their way through the door and scanned the room with their guns. I think I remember one of them saying something along the lines of, “If you can get up, get up.” There might have been one girl who was able to get up despite her wounds. I can’t be sure, but in my memory, I stood up, looked around, and I was standing alone.
It’s incredibly difficult to be a part of something like this and be on this periphery. Why did I not get shot along with everyone else? Why was I the only one spared in that classroom? A lot of people’s reactions were: “Oh, you must feel so fortunate not to have been shot.” But it hasn’t been any easier for me. I think it’s a mistake to think that, and I think Virginia Tech made this mistake, perhaps, assuming that it would be easier for me because I didn’t get a bullet. I mean, that’s what I ended up thinking myself. And that’s how these years of self-punishment and guilt started. I got spared, you know? I didn’t feel like I deserved to not get shot.

- Excerpt from interview with Clay Violand, Virginia Tech shooting survivor.

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