Entry Title: "Backside"
Name: Lili Holzer-Glier , United States
Category and Expertise: Photo Essay and Feature Story|Deeper Perspective, Student


Entry Description: Backside: A Look at the Unseen Side of Thoroughbred Racing documents the life on the backside of New York State Thoroughbred racetracks, a place rife with contemporary issues like illegal immigration, racism, poverty, gambling and poor housing.

Story: Mornings on the backside of Thoroughbred racetracks are invariably beautiful; misty, still, the sun rising over the galloping horses, steam rising as they sweat...While photographing near the track housing, a man emerged from his bedroom, looked at me, my camera and then grabbed my arm. He led me towards his room, opened the door and said, “Look at this shit.” I paused for a moment. He pushed me in the room, “What the hell you waitin’ for? Take a picture of this squalor, show the whole damn world how we have to live.” Another man shouted from outside, “This ain’t that bad! We only got roaches here at Saratoga, them shacks at Belmont got wharf rats.” As I was taking photos he told me about living on the backside, “I came to Saratoga on a 2 am bus lookin’ for a job. I got here and they wouldn't let me in even though I got my track pass from last year. I kept beggin’ them to just let me put my bags down. I mean fuck, the other guys on the bus with me weren’t even legal [immigrants] they just snuck in the back. The guard let me in after awhile and put me in a room with nothin’ in it just a concrete floor. So I went out and found a bench to sleep on ‘til I got a job. You can't believe the shit that gets thrown at you workin’ on the track.” He paused for a moment. “You wanna know what it’s like back here? I just got home, ate two ears of corn I got from a truck this morning. That’s dinner. It hurts to tell this.” I asked him if he ever tried to leave the track, he laughed at me and said, “As my Grandma always told me, once you get racehorse piss on you, you ain’t never gonna get it off.” His face hardened quickly, “We live our lives like pennies in a jar what are we savin’ for? I’m nothin’ and that’s what I’ve become through the years and the track. I’ve lost my way, I’m not who I was; like a summer rose, a victim of the fall but with no sign of summer comin’ soon.”

About the Artist:

Lili Holzer-Glier was born in New York City in 1988. She graduated with honors and received a BFA in Photography and Imaging from New York University. She is currently attending the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program and will receive her Masters degree from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism in 2012. Lili has worked for the photographers Joseph Rodriguez, James Nachtwey and Jim Rakete and has had internships at the Richard Avedon Foundation and Cheim and Read Gallery. At age 20, Lili had her first New York solo show at Galerie Debaume followed by an exhibition at the Berkshire Museum. After the show, the museum bought two prints for its permanent collection. Lili has been in group shows at the Gulf and Western Gallery, the Barrett Art Center, the Calumet Gallery, the New England School of Photography and the New Orleans Photo Alliance. In 2009 she was awarded the Tisch School of the Arts’ Seth Tobias Award, the Tom Drysdale Grant and the Snap Stars Photographic Fundraiser for AIDS Award. She was awarded the Tom Drysdale Grant for a second time in 2010. Lili lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.