They are places we fear to tread, monuments to the principles of our forebears, awe-inspiring towers of achievement: public institutions that sustain and support our society are all around us. Scott Fortino investigates these enduring pillars of public life in "Institutional", a striking visual essay that documents the diverse architectural structures that house the foundations of civic life in the city of Chicago. From schools to churches to prisons, Fortino transforms these worn, familiar edifices into compelling symbols of long-lost ideals and communitarian spirit. Fortino coaxes out the subtle warmth and depths of these often overwhelming and pitiless public spaces in his photographs, as his camera reveals the hidden characters of both high-profile works by renowned designers such as Rem Koolhaas, Helmut Jahn, and Mies van der Rohe as well as the stolid structures designed by long-forgotten architects. Light, color, and composition work together in Fortino's images to produce provocative new perspectives on the interiors of public buildings, revealing how their cultural and social roles as places of worship, education, punishment, or entertainment cast long and complex shadows over our lives. Fortino challenges us in "Institutional" to rethink our view of the public spaces we pass through every day by offering an original and fascinating photographic study of the settings in which the important events of human life unfold.
Scott Fortino is a photographer who also works as a patrolman with the Chicago Police Department. His photographs are in the permanent collections of the LaSalle Bank of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, and numerous private collections.