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Say Less

Say Less

by Greg Gulbransen

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Over the course of three years, Greg Gulbransen photographed Malik, a set leader of the violent street gang, the Crips. Malik was shot and paralysed in 2018 by the bullet from a rival gang, and as a result his world now centres around his small Bronx apartment in New York, where he is cared for by his family and fellow gang members.

Gulbransen, a practicing doctor, had been photographing in the Bronx during his spare time and had got to know some of the local kids. He began to notice a lot of young men in wheelchairs with spinal injuries and was professionally curious. He was told they had all been shot. He wanted to speak to someone in a wheelchair and was introduced to Malik through a fellow Crip. 

More about this book

‘As a physician, it was a way to explore one facet of the epidemic of gun violence in this country. There are shootings every day in the five boroughs of New York City and the Bronx is the worst. But across the country, gun violence and the availability of guns is a public health emergency. The effects are devastating. The physician in me wants to show people who don’t live in areas with high rates of gun violence how terrible it can be in these places, how complicated the problem is, how far-reaching the effects of the gun-violence epidemic are. The photographer in me is trying to show what it’s like to be a victim of gun violence while also being a part
of the problem.’

One summer night in 2018, Malik left his apartment to pick up a sandwich for dinner. He was shot in front of a 99-cent store by a rival gang. The bullets evered Malik’s thoracic spine and instantly paralysed him from his chest down. Malik was one of the key leaders of the local set, and so, even after theshooting, gang members continued to come to his apartment at all hours of the day and night, to talk, plan and to take care of their leader.

Malik lives with his mother and grandfather in a housing project. There are no nurses nor aides to help with Malik’s care so during the day his mother, Eyanna, manages his many medical issues such as changing his diaper and catheter, and his father is on call at night. The photographs in the book show Malik’s day-to-day life—the cramped apartment, the difficulties of inhabiting and navigating the small space in a wheelchair, the visiting gang members, hushed conversations, the closeness and love of his family, and the proximity to violence and loss.

‘It’s a very emotional space. There’s tension there, darkness, fear. It’s a place of turmoil. Yet at the same time there was always so much love and caring. The apartment was filled with contradictions.’

 To this day, Malik can’t enter certain neighbourhoods, travel down certain streets, or there’s a good chance a rival gang member will try to kill him. His world is his bedroom. He is trapped.

‘I’m trying to complicate things for readers by hopefully showing that passing judgment on people like Malik might be more difficult, morally speaking, than they think. There are a lot of victims here and, yes, some of them are perpetrators, too. I’m definitely not saying these guys are saints—they’ve all made choices and they should absolutely be held accountable for those choices—but they’re victims, too.’

Published August 2024
212 x 286 mm
160pp, 89 images
Hardback, clothbound cover with a tipped in image and silver foiling
ISBN 978-1-915423-36-8

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  • Greg Gulbransen works as a paediatric doctor in Long Island, New York. Following a tragic car accident involving his son in 2002, he successfully campaigned to get the auto industry to install rear-view cameras in American cars. As a result, all new cars in the US must have rear-view cameras, leading to an immeasurable impact on the lives of Americans. Gulbransen has been making photographs since 2014 and his subjects are informed by his drive to highlight issues impacting American society, with a focus on young people. Say Less is his first monograph.

  • ‘As a physician, it was a way to explore one facet of the epidemic of gun violence in this country. There are shootings every day in the five boroughs of New York City and the Bronx is the worst. But across the country, gun violence and the availability of guns is a public health emergency. The effects are devastating. The physician in me wants to show people who don’t live in areas with high rates of gun violence how terrible it can be in these places, how complicated the problem is, how far-reaching the effects of the gun-violence epidemic are. The photographer in me is trying to show what it’s like to be a victim of gun violence while also being a partof the problem.’

    - Greg Gulbransen