Am Sonntag mal ein Mode-freier Post. Heute geht es auf eine Zeitreise zurück in die 1980er und zwar nach New York. Fotograf Steven Siegel hat ein unglaubliches Archiv an Aufnahmen aus der Zeit von vor 30 Jahre, die New York in einem ganz anderen Licht dastehen lassen. Unglaublich authentische Aufnahmen die man am liebsten so erlebt hätte. Bei gothamist hab ich ein Interview mit Steven Siegel gefunden, in dem er ein bisschen was zu der Veränderung NewYorks durch seine Kamera Linse erzählt. Weitere Fotos von Steven Siegel gibt es auf seinem Flickr Account. Neue Fotografen Entdeckungen gibt es sonst auf facebook und pinterest.
New York in the 1980s differed in two fundamental ways from the New York of today.
First, 1980s-era New York was an edgier, riskier, dirtier, tenser, more dangerous and chaotic place. I think that fairly comes through in my images. Second, 1980s-era New York had a sense of wide-openess and freedom that was lost following 9/11 ... and likely never will be regained.
Notice how these two fundamental changes overlap in a number of important ways. A safer city, to some extent, comes at the price of a loss of freedom and openess. Conversely, the edginess and riskiness of the 1980s came at an appalling human and social cost. My photos of South Bronx and Bushwick are—if I might say so—a testament to that. Those who might be nostalgic for the edginess and riskiness of the 1980s were surely not the people who were growing up in the South Bronx and Bushwick in the era.
The trade-off between openess and security is reflected in a very literal way in some of my 1980s photos. Some of my photos from that era were taken from the tops of bridges and within city-owned properties that were nominally closed off to the public. In that era, many of these locations were open and accessible. It is perhaps unnecessary to state that—in this post-9/11 era—an itinerant photographer should not attempt to explore these same locations. The probable consequence, at the very least, will be the loss of the ability to smoothly pass though airport security checkpoints.
In any event, these are just a few broad-brush generalizations... useful but limited. The city is such an enormous and complex place that one should hesitate to resort to generalizations—let alone attempt to explain the complicated forces that have shaped the city over the past thirty years. My photos say this better than I can. What I mean is: If my photos show anything about New York, it is New York's astonishing diversity. New York is not one city. It is—and always has been—a collection of hundreds of neighborhoods. Each of these neighborhoods has its own delicate social fabric. One cannot know New York—or understand New York—without exploring all five boroughs. Although I have explored the city more than most, I can still find plenty of places that I've never encountered before... that are new to me, and surprising. One can never know it all! Even if one tried, a neighborhood would likely change by the time one got around to visiting it again!
Times Square is, in some ways, emblematic of the changes and trade-offs that have taken place in New York over the past thirty years. (In other ways, it is not, because Times Square is the city's central business district—not a mere neighborhood.) In any event, no one can mourn the loss of the sleaze and degradation of the old Times Square. But the new Times Square is often sterile and corporate... with all the character and authenticity of a shopping mall. I'm not at all sure that the best of the old could have been preserved while making way for tangible improvements.