Devastation Portraits captures intimate moments of despair staged in public spaces. Dramatizations of sadness, hopelessness and grief, performed spontaneously in everyday locations, challenge societal norms of “appropriate” emotional expression. Unsuspecting bystanders, by nature of their proximity, function as surrogates for the viewer. Their unplanned and unexpected reactions are recorded in each photograph, commenting on, even judging the fallen subject. Awkward and indelicate, obvious and illogical, conceptually provocative yet visually absurd, Devastation Portraits asks us to reflect on our own dis/comfort with public displays of vulnerability.

Photographic assistance by:

Nikki Brake-Silla, Marc d’Agostino, Eli, Lindsay Martin, Angie McCloskey, & countless strangers



Alison Crouse is a filmmaker and photographer living and working in Philadelphia. She received her MFA in Film and Media Arts from Temple University, and her BFA in Photography from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Her narrative and documentary works have been screened, broadcast and distributed internationally, and her photographic work has been published and shown in galleries across North America. Her most recent exhibition, a mixed media installation entitled Feed My Empty, featured a grid of twenty-eight handmade ceramic spoons acting as screens for twenty-eight individual and fleeting scratch animations. Alison’s current photographic series, Devastation Portraits, captures performances of despair staged in public spaces.