Ben Schonberger (b. 1987) in Alexandria, VA. He is a native of northern VA, Schonberger grew up in the town of Leesburg, located just 37 miles outside of Washington DC. He holds a BFA in Photography/Computer Imagery from Shepherd University where he also worked as the Art Department’s Studio Manager. In 2010 Schonberger was selected as one of Leesburg’s “30 Under 30” for being an active artist in the community. A 2013 graduate of the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Schonberger worked as the Photography Department’s Digital Lab assistant where he managed and operated large format printers and ink limiting software. He also worked as an assistant to Alec Soth during the printing and hanging of his exhibition at the Cranbrook Art Museum in the fall of 2012.
Process and the Archive
During an investigation of Detroit, I acquired a series of photographs from a retired former
Detroit Police officer, Marty Gaynor, whom I began to interview weekly over a course of two
years. Among his thousands of photographs were images that he had taken of criminals, just
moments before their arrest. By cataloguing, arranging, and interpreting his work, I gave it the
parameters of an archive. I arranged Marty’s images to create documents in the format of a grid.
Each grid was presented to Marty as a canvas for him to transcribe a narration for his images. I
infiltrated and paired the grids with images I had taken during my investigation and interaction
with Marty. My arrangements are designed to address the complexities of identity through
In the tradition of August Sander, I am drawn to typologies of people and how they work in
society. My images focus on masculine archetypes and their connection to labor. I meet men,
establish working relationships with them, and then excavate and catalogue their belongings to
construct a record. My focus is to create social documentaries that expose the idiosyncratic
nature of identity, occupation, and faith.
For more information, visit his website.