Greer Muldowney

likes photography

Monetary Violence 2017–

James “Whitey” Bulger, Jr., leader of the infamous Irish Mob syndicate “The Winter Hill Gang,” disappeared in 1995, evading authorities and leaving the city of Somerville, Mass., with a notorious legacy. On June 22, 2011, Whitey Bulger was arrested in Santa Monica California and charged with racketeering as well as the murders of 19 people. The median home price in Somerville the day of his arrest was $397,500.

On August 18, 2013, Mayor Joseph Curtatone declared, “I wish I was a hipster,” at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Somerville Tiny Museum in Union Square, just half a mile away from the place The Winter Hill Gang once called its headquarters. The same year, this neighborhood was declared one of the hottest on several terrible real estate listicles. The median home price in the city was $418,000.

As of October of 2019, I have lived in the Winter Hill neighborhood as a renter for 8 years, in a house that sits blocks away from Bulger’s old hangout and steps from the site of the “Hipster” declaration of 2013. The 3-unit home in which I reside is currently valued at $1,136,994.

Once a community defined by blue collar toughness, rich ethnic enclaves, and a large artist population, Somerville is feeling the strain of gentrification and monetary forces. There is a growing pall over the city, much harder to point to than an easily vilified mobster. It covers, as well, my own existence within this community in flux. Within these contexts, I use the macrocosm of the city in parallel with the intimacy of my own home; illustrating my own complicity and privilege.

Monetary Violence is an ongoing body of work attempting to weave a narrative between the ever changing visual landscape of the city and its community players. Those moving to exploit the market, and those trying to preserve it from its eventual erasure. All of whom feel that the invasion of wealth is inevitable; where maybe the only answer is truth of power pretending to be progress. Though Somerville is a place of specificity, it is also being used as a syndicate for many communities blighted by economic disparity.