2016 / Fine Art / Landscape

BodyMore, Murderland

  • Photographer
    William Sands
  • Agency / Studio
    Fractures Photo Collective

January 2016 In 2015 Baltimore lost more than 340 lives to violence. Its per capita homicide rate was among the highest in the United States, on par with cities like Chicago. Some of the killed were shot. Most were African American. But this is not the sum of the problem facing American cities, rather tragic traits of a crisis. At the root is a complex web of special interests and historical legacies. It is systemic racial and economic inequality, an abundance of firearms, a failed war on drugs. While Baltimore has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, Maryland’s neighbors are some of the most laxed when it comes to regulation. The port city has always been an important node in international drug traficking operations given its strategic location along the Atlantic coast. After the ports closed many were left under or unemployed fueling both addiction and trafficking. Freddie Gray’s death brought increased attention to police brutality, as a result many in Baltimore say the police went on an unofficial strike. Response time increased dramatically and community-police relations reached an all time low. All of this is true and yet in an election year few are offering concrete plans to address these institional causes of the current crisis. To focus our gaze, I’ve photographed landscapes. The photos are of addresses listed as the crime scene. They are not necessarily photos of where the actual violence occurred. They are empty spaces, meditations on lost spirits. Wil Sands *project based on Baltimore Sun’s ongoing Homicide Data Mapping

As a journalist William is guided by the belief that journalism’s role is to “hold truth(s) to power”. As a photographer William searches for stories that add nuance and complexity to public discourse. His work seeks to challenge reductionist narratives that maintain the status quo. 2011- Co-Founded Fractures Photo Collective as a platform to promote documentary photography and as an alternative business model to traditional agencies. 2014- Co-Created the Voizes Archive, an online census of the international incarceration experience.