Jordan Baumgarten - The Group For Mutual Improvement

Gost Books

Regular price $55.00

 The black and white photographs in The Group For Mutual Improvement were taken in a vacant lot behind photographer Jordan Baumgarten’s home in Philadelphia. Over a period of 10 years, Baumgarten and his neighbours spent much of their time together in this lot. His book is a document of these gatherings.

The title is drawn from the Junto, also known as the Leather Apron Club— a diverse group of individuals Benjamin Franklin brought together in colonial era Philadelphia for the purpose of mutual improvement. They would gather in a tavern to debate questions of morals, politics, current events, philosophy, and local businesses. Baumgarten’s group was much less formal but the discussions no less vital.

‘When we gathered, we would talk for hours—often arguing the absurdity of human existence while our phone notifications alerted us to crimes in the area as they happened in real time. The harshness
of the world was cushioned by the support of community. And, because of that, we improved the quality of each other’s lives tenfold.’

 At the end of the book is a list of incidents and crimes which occured in the city whilst the group gathered. The reminder of the harshness of the urban experience contrasts with the sense of community prevalent in the photographs. The images show both individuals and the details of the lot itself as nature slowly encroaches on the built environment—bats, moths and possums happily co-exist with the human visitors.

214 x 288 mm
96pp, 56 images
ISBN 978-1-915423-32-0