City Paper is not for tourists
Jennifer Dorsey’s series “Alma Mater” addresses a not-so-urgent question: As a photographic subject, how useful is a school devoid of its students? The answer, judging by Dorsey’s images of D.C.’s St. Albans and National Cathedral schools, is mixed. On the downside, you get too many empty corridors, gyms, and rooms stocked with an overabundance of chairs, from wooden straight-back and overstuffed leather to avocado-green molded plastic with desks attached. More impressive are a row of lockers open at precisely the same angle, looking like a 1930s industrial abstraction, and an image of a wall of decades-old sports-championship banners in puzzlingly varied states of deterioration. But Dorsey’s most impressive images are those that mirror the absence so evident in the series: a wiped-clean whiteboard; a blank, textured, painted-brick wall; and a bulletin board that’s empty except for a lonely copy of the school honor code.
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