Gritty photo essay captures crack addiction

Sage Gallon, Crack(s) Series, 2013.
Sage Gallon, Crack(s) Series, 2013.

On the “A” w/Souleo

Nearly 12 years ago, Sage Gallon was just getting clean after a decade of smoking crack. He’s now reliving those days of substance abuse but this time as a photographer. In his photographic essay, “Crack(s)” Gallon presents Baby Dee, a man in his mid-30s and in the throes of drug abuse. The raw images were taken last January over the course of 45 minutes at a Los Angeles motel. Baby Dee is depicted in different phases from actual crack use to quiet moments of apparent self-reflection and despair.

“When I was living on the streets, homeless, dirty and empty I remember how people would look at me,” recalled Gallon. “I remember the looks of disdain, as though I was being stripped of my humanity. With this series I want the audience to not only see his [Baby Dee] pain, his isolation and his addiction but I want the audience to also see his beauty and his humanity.”

Shortly after the shoot, Gallon showed Baby Dee the images and recounts that the latter was nearly brought to tears. Gallon then dropped him off at a gas station and has not heard from him since. But even if the series does not save Baby Dee from his addiction, Gallon hopes that his photos will contribute to ongoing calls to reform drug policy in the U.S. The federal War on Drugs costs an annual amount of $51 billion, has contributed to the U.S. having the highest incarceration rate in the world of over 2 million people and two-thirds of those incarcerated for a drug offense in state prison are black or Hispanic.

“With the prison industrial complex there is more profit to imprison people for drug use or possession instead of giving them treatment. This takes an addict and hardens them. We should be focused more on declaring a war against poverty and hopelessness than drugs. We really have to start putting people over profit,” said Gallon.

Joseph Cavalieri, Gluttonize, 2013.
Joseph Cavalieri, Gluttonize, 2013.

Drugs aren’t the only addictions focused on in Joseph Cavalieri’s exhibition, “Deliver Us From Our Addictions” which runs from January 7 to February 13 at The Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York City.

To read the entire column click here.

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