Ours to Lose

A visual record of places in West Philadelphia at risk of being altogether forgotten


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Comm. Development
  • Memory
  • Public culture

Organizing Institutions



Aaron Levy

Opens to public





4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104


0% Formal - 100% Informal

Slought is pleased to announce Ours to Lose, a visual record by Vincent Feldman of places in West Philadelphia at risk of being altogether forgotten, on display from May 5 – June 5, 2018. An opening reception will take place on Saturday, May 5, 2018 from 6-8pm, with introductory remarks by the artist beginning at 7pm.

A strong base of civic institutions and businesses emerged in West Philadelphia in the hundred years prior to 1970. These activities provided a modern commons where community and solidarity were nourished and maintained. They contributed to the formation of a distinct cultural vibe that continues to this day, and reflects a history of diversity and tolerance that is unique to West Philadelphia.

The forgotten histories of the Commercial Museum, University City High School, and its marking of the Black Bottom are revisited in the front gallery of Slought. The aftermath of the MOVE tragedy which took place on May 14, 1985 and destroyed the 6200 block of Osage avenue is documented in the mediatheque. Finally, the hallowed grounds of Mount Moriah Cemetery, the largest cemetery in Pennsylvania and an important landmark in South West Philadelphia since 1855, are presented in the main gallery. Forlorn and neglected for decades this two hundred acre landscape is in the process of being rescued by bold and determined neighbors, friends, and family of those interred there. Without ownership since 2004, the cemetery has seen this diverse group autonomously create a new and promising future for the grounds against all odds. These remarkable efforts are inspiring and are worthy of making this landscape a candidate for National Historic Landmark status, an important goal for the Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery and South West Philadelphia.

This exhibition also extends the narrative of City Abandoned: Charting the Loss of Civic Institution's in Philadelphia (2014), a past project by Feldman in the form of a book. Here we revisit some of the historic sites featured in that project alongside other landmarks from West Philadelphia which are in a position to be preserved if the challenges of community organizing and political representation are met.

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In the early 1990s, Vincent Feldman began concentrating on architectural photography as a way of exploring and addressing histories that have struggled to become known. His work in Philadelphia documents the decline and resilience of Philadelphia in the late 20th Century through studies of historic architecture and community.

Feldman's first project on Philadelphia was published in 2014. City Abandoned: Charting the Loss of Civic Institutions in Philadelphia compiled the work of 13 years of photography within the neighborhoods of Philadelphia which suffered under a decades long policy of federal redlining and corresponding disinvestment. It received awards for its support of education and advocacy of historic preservation.

He is currently involved in the creation of a new work for print called Tokyo Mo-dan: The Enduring Legacy of Modern Architecture in Tokyo. Feldman's work is collected by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Smithsonian, and other major institutions. He is a 2001 recipient of the Pew Fellowship in the Arts.

"A city is measured by the character of its institutions. The street is one of its first institutions. Today these institutions are on trial."

— Louis Kahn