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Good Sick – America’s Opioid Crisis Pictured Through One Neighborhood in Philadelphia

Good Sick is the second monograph by Jordan Baumgarten featuring his hometown of Philadelphia and the complicated relationship he has with city in which he was born. Published by Gost Books, Good Sick is a photographic portrait of the U.S. opioid crisis, shown through its effects on the Kensington neighborhood in the City of Brotherly Love. A nexus for heroin users and the disorder and confusion the habit entails, the landscape of Kensington is a mixture of addicts and everyday life.

“The photographs in this book depict chaos; nature encroaching on urban decay; an ambiguity between magic and darkness; private moments which are public, animals and humans roam free – fueled by id and always, somewhere, there is a fire burning,” writes Baumgarten in the book. The images

Taken between 2012 and 2017, Baumgarten says that while the images were made in Philadelphia, the work is not specifically about that place. “The city serves as a microcosm to discuss issues tearing apart the fabric of our social landscape,” he explains.

The title of the book is slang for the nausea that is felt after shooting heroin. At the same time, Baumgarten manages to convey the trauma of addiction without relying on images of heroin paraphernalia like needles and spoons.

Baumgarten’s relationship with Philadelphia is complex and emotional. He was born there, went to college there, and met and married his wife there. But he’s also nearly been killed in Philadelphia and has witnessed horrific tragedies. “Experience, and this complicated relationship to place, is the cornerstone of my work and the driving force in my life,” writes Baumgarten in Good Sick.

Baumgarten will be signing copies of Good Sick at the GOST Books stand at The Photography Show organized by AIPAD on Saturday, April 7 at 4pm.

Good Sick by Jordan Baumgarten
Published April 2018 by Gost Books
Limited to 650 copies

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  1. Looks like strong, interesting, timely work; I say “looks like” because we are at a loss having to guess what the photos imply without captions (eg- the pick up/flowering tree?).

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