Institute of Industrial Relations Gallery, UC Berkeley 1/21/2003-7/15/2003
click on photos for larger view and full caption
"Field Work" is one of a series of projects that hopefully raise questions in the viewer's mind about relationships in the world we live in. In this case the subject is agriculture and those that work the fields. All the images are from California, where half of the nation's vegetables and fruits are grown, including 85% of the strawberries and 95% of the tomatoes used in processed foods. The photo/text panels illustrate the harvesting of specialty crops such as asparagus, romaine lettuce, pomegranates, garlic, and cotton, and together tell the story of the political economy of agriculture and of the field workers that form the labor backbone of this industry with falling wages and increased corporate subsidies.
Robert Gumpert is a freelance documentary photographer living in the bay area. He started his career in Harlan County, Kentucky, in 1974, documenting what turned out to be the last three months of the epic United Mineworker's strike. These photos resulted in a 1976 exhibit and catalog in Los Angeles, "Harlan County Kentucky: A Photo-Documentation," and many are part of the Coal Employment Project Records Appalachian Archives in East Tennessee State University. He continues to photograph social and economic subjects. Recent projects include "Faces Behind the Labels," a traveling exhibit of garment workers mounted by Oakland's Sweatshop Watch during 1998 and 1999, "Lost Promise: The Criminal Justice System," and an ongoing study of the health care system. His photos have been used in outreach media by U.C.'s Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, and he is currently a photographer under contract with the California Department of Industrial Relations (see "Meet California's Division of Apprenticeship Standards Apprentices 1999")
P.O. Box 77132, San Francisco, CA 94107, (415) 821-2091
This is the fourth in a series of photo exhibits sponsored by the Institute of Industrial Relations Library.