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Tara Conant | United States

Holyoke, MA.

Sites is a series of photographs that document locations in and around Western Massachusetts where a violent crime against a woman (and sometimes other family members) have taken place.

Each photograph in the series documents location where a murder took place, a kidnapping occurred, or a body was discovered. The images are shot at the very location or in close proximity to where the crime took place from the public information available.

All of the pictures show sites that are common to us. These are your ‘average looking’ houses, buildings, shopping centers, banal and ordinary landscapes. The places are visually empty, usually devoid of any people; houses look like they could be from a real estate brochure and are unremarkable. The locations are documented in a strict documentary tradition, straightforward and without sentimentality, which add to the similarity of each site. All of the images are displayed with text that describes what happened at each of the locations. All is gathered from newspapers, news reports or other public documents.

The photographs challenge the idea of normalcy and peacefulness of a place when seen in combination with the text. This view creates a tension between a place seen as ordinary and safe to what actually occurred there at one time.

The project started and continues as a documentation and personal reaction to the crimes of domestic violence and the murders of women in Western Massachusetts. But on a larger scale, it could serve to raise awareness of the increasing level of violence in our society, which seemingly has become ‘acceptable’ in our culture.

The series won a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Grant in 2005.




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