NO PLATFORM is a project by (me) Taryn Fivek to explore the modern economic and political contradictions across the United States. It is a collaborative multimedia project that aims to explore a side of the US not covered in our 24-hour news cycle. In the tradition of Studs Terkel, Barbara Ehrenreich, and the WPA writer corps, I want to capture a snapshot of what life looks like in the United States in the run-up to the 2016 Presidential Elections.
45 million Americans live below the poverty line, with tens of millions just one paycheck away from homelessness. Tens of millions are without gainful employment. Not a day goes by that we don’t read about more police brutality against people of color. Guantanamo Bay is still open for business, and unprecedented wars rage across the Middle East. Hundreds of thousands are poisoned not only in Flint, but across the country.
The United States runs on billion dollar advertising campaigns. Some of the biggest and most popular of these campaigns are the Presidential elections that arrive every 4 years, more glitzed-up and overwhelming with each cycle. It’s hard to avoid the talking heads when they’re playing on every gas station television and filling up your spam folder. Dinners and church sermons become political arguments driven by the media’s agenda on how we relate to government in this country. We are told over and over that if you don’t vote, you can’t complain.
But the majority of people who are of voting age in this country don’t vote. 11.5 million are working here without legal paperwork, 2.3 million are in prison, more than 40 million aren’t naturalized citizens, and tens of millions more have just given up on the system. These are people who have no platform to speak and no platform to vote for.
Many of the largest structural issues – racism, inequality, and unemployment – are given lip service across the news media. History deserves a better record of what life is like in 2016 – 15 years after the declaration of the War on Terror, a decade after Hurricane Katrina, and eight years since the start of the Great Recession.
Please join me as I travel across the United States, speaking with the working class and people living on the margins about what challenges and struggles they face living in the US.
What follows will be a collection of photos, interviews, audio, video and essays that will contribute to a book about the challenges facing people who live in the US during one of the most controversial election cycles of the century.
I’m currently crowdfunding my 90-day field work across the country via Kickstarter.
About Taryn Fivek
I spent a lot of my 20s in the Middle East, photographing and interviewing people hard hit by war. I have been honored to participate in Occupy London, Food Not Bombs, Palestinian solidarity activism, antiwar marches, voter registration drives, and organize with the most militant union in the United States. I was also a Chinese food delivery driver while I was attending night school in Central Florida. This qualifies me as an excellent driver.
My professional (restaurant work is not included!) background is mostly in media. My mother was a journalist for 22 years, covering local news across 11 states. Her experience and strength continues to inspire me. I’ve worked on sets since I was 16, and managed to run a college radio station for two years. I’ve interviewed scores of people from all different backgrounds. I love video, audio and the written word.
I am a passionate conversationalist, as anyone who has ever been stuck in a diner with me for three hours over coffee can attest. I speak Arabic, passable Spanish and a bit of Russian.
I also have a development background, having studied at SOAS in London and done my MSc research in Palestine.
Most importantly, I’m a relentless workaholic.