My photographs examine informal settlements and unplanned growth in the world’s major cities.
According to the United Nations, there are more than a billion squatters living today – one out of every six people on earth. This number is expected to double to two billion by 2030. These squatter communities take on many forms, from the dense conglomeration of multi-story reinforced concrete structures in Rio de Janeiro, to the sprawling shantytowns comprised of simple huts in Lagos, Nigeria. Despite their differences, these shantytowns share a common history: people, mostly migrants from rural areas, came to cities in search of work and affordable housing; as it could not be found on the open market, they claimed small pieces of unused land and built a community within the city.
Traditional social theory believes that urbanization would follow industrialization. However, many of the world’s mega-cities, particularly those in the developing world, are undergoing massive population growth simultaneously with a loss of industrial jobs and stagnant economies. Meanwhile, due to mechanized farming, industrial-scale agribusiness, civil war, draught and countless other factors, the hardships of rural life drives many to look for opportunity in the world’s urban centers. Although much is written about the crime and poverty endemic to squatter communities, many squatters are hard-working citizens who, through lack of education or poor job opportunities, cannot earn enough rent or purchase a legal home. As one squatter living under high-tension power lines in a favela in Sao Paolo told me, “my dream is to have a legal address.”
Noah Addis (Columbus, OH) holds a BS in Photography from Drexel University in 1997. His photographs have been exhibited in solo exhibitions at Loyola University Art Museum (Chicago, IL), The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies (Portland, ME), and The Center for Emerging Visual Artists (Philadelphia, PA) and group exhibitions as venues such as Foley Gallery (NYC), and Broadstone Studio (Dublin, Ireland). His work has been published and reviewed widely, appearing in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report and many others. Addis participated in The Summer Show Project at the Foley Gallery in New York and has been awarded fellowships from the Center for Emerging Visual Artists, the Independence Foundation and the George A and Eliza Gardner How¬ard Foundation.