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Hoarders: Photographer recreates grim scenes from his childhood
04.24.2015
06:15 am

Topics:
Art

Tags:
photography
hoarders


 
The hoarders I’ve seen on reality TV tend to be isolated and lonely. Often the shame of hoarding fosters seclusion, and/or the environment their disorder has produced alienates and repels friends and loved ones. I’ve never seen a hoarder living with children, presumably because a lucid parent (most hoarders appear to have some level of self-awareness about what they’re doing), would know that a filthy home is a health hazard. Hoarder parents would have to be more secretive for fear of losing their children, though tragically this would leave them less likely to reach out for help, preserving the conditions of an afflicted family. Photographer Geoff Johnson and his sister grew up in hoarder’s house, and his series, “Behind the Door” tells the story eloquently:

Behind the Door explores the daily life of living with a parent who is a hoarder from a child’s perspective. This work is a personal reflection from Geoff and his sister’s life growing up.

Geoff recreated images displaying how stuff not only consumed his childhood home, but deteriorated conditions for daily living, ultimately shaping who he would become.

Johnson actually went back to his childhood home to stage the scenes—the first time he’d been in the house since he moved out in 1995. The photos are immediately tragic, but there is an anxiety too, as you try to imagine little feet navigating such irregular and unstable terrain.
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The gorgeous vintage S&M of trailblazing pornographer Jacques Biederer
04.13.2015
07:09 am

Topics:
Sex

Tags:
photography
sadomasochism
Jacques Biederer


 
Jacques Biederer’s erotica is unique for a few reasons. The Czech photographer began his Parisian career in 1913 doing G-rated portraits, but then moved to more prurient subject matter—though still fairly “conventional” sexy materials for the day—ladies in their underwear, really. Then Biederer moved more toward full-on classical nudes, sometimes with couples, sometimes shot “on location” outdoors or on a carefully arranged set. Then he got into fetish photography—whips, domination, corseting, pony play—pretty scandalous stuff, but it was always shot with an artistic eye. Biederer was a forerunner of someone like Irving Klaw in the US.

Biederer’s work—whether a smiling ingenue or a dominatrix always valued composition, the emotions of his subjects, and sexuality—rather than simple sex mechanics. Even if it ain’t your bag, the photos are lovely and weird—they have a sense of humor about them and aren’t misogynist or pretentious. His dames were often the doms, whipping their male slaves, but sometimes it was the other way around.These are some of the more “safe for work” pictures, but you can see (slightly) more explicit stuff here, though he never did anything “hardcore.” He also made some giggly stag films, but again, we’re talking a lot of cutesy, sapphic slap and tickle (literally, dude was apparently way into spanking).

When France was occupied by the Nazis, Biederer who was Jewish was sent to Auschwitz where he died.
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Hell awaits, but a decade’s worth of Slayer fans are surprisingly beautiful
04.10.2015
06:30 am

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
photography
Slayer


 
Photographer Sanna Charles has been capturing the wild joy of Slayer fans since 2003, and her new book, God Listens to Slayer, has such an enthusiastic, youthful feel about it—which is not as as counterintuitive as it may seem. For any other band of nearly 35 years, this would be a late start. For Slayer however, there is always a fresh crop of teens reconstituting their fanbase with fresh, pubescent faces. Sanna describes her first time watching the fans explode at a show:

The show had been put back by three hours, it was baking hot, and they were now playing in a smaller tent instead of an outdoor stage. The tent was rammed and people were in there waiting for pretty much three hours solid. That buildup, and then watching them play, was amazing. The other photographers left the pit after three songs but I just stayed because I was so mesmerized by the crowd.

The pure release of anger and aggression by the fans felt so free. Everyone was packed into the tent, kind of like kittens in a pet shop trying to get out. Afterward I got about three portraits of people leaving, just as an afterthought, but when I got them back I really fell in love with one of the photos.

Sanna’s photos are more than sympathetic to her subjects; they’re celebratory, with an eye for the evergreen, joyous revelry that is a Slayer show. At the same time, describing them as “kittens” feels about right—no amount of pentagrams can hide those cherub cheeks.
 

 

 
More Slayer fans after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
See where 30,000 bombs fell during the London Blitz, 1940-41

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In September 1940, the German Luftwaffe unleashed a strategic bombing campaign that targeted all of the major cities across the UK. Over 30,000 tons of high explosives were dropped on sixteen cities during a relentless over 267-day campaign, or “Blitzkrieg” (German for “lightening war”), that claimed over 40,000 civilian lives—half them in London alone—wounded over 100,000 and destroyed more than a million homes. It was an event that changed the nature of the war, and brought repercussions for Germany.

My mother was a child during the Second World War, living with her parents and sister in a tenement in the north-west of Glasgow. She can still clearly recall the regular sound of the siren warning of another German bombing raid. People decamped to the bomb shelters situated in the back gardens, where my mother listened to the whistle and blast of the bombs, land mines and other incendiaries raining down from the planes above.

In March 1941, she was briefly evacuated to a cottage in Milport on the isle of Great Cumbrae, off the west coast of Scotland. During this time, the Luftwaffe carried out two bombing raids on Clydebank—that have been described as “the most cataclysmic event” in war-time Scotland. My mother recalled how the German planes seemed to fly so low she felt she could touch them, while the flames from the raid lit up the sky like it was day.
 
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Clydebank, near Glasgow, after the ‘blitz’ of March 1941.
 
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Devastation in the south of London—a bus lies in the rubble of a bomb crater.
 
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Central Coventry after a bombing raid November 1940.
 
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Sleeping in the shelter of London’s Underground station at Elephant and Castle, November 1940.
 
More photos plus link to the interactive Blitz site, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Queer, boho or just plain gorgeous: Photographer captures the beauty of counterculture youth
04.02.2015
05:47 am

Topics:
Art
Queer

Tags:
photography
youth
millennials
counter-culture


 
Like every generation before them, millennials endure the scorn of their amnestic elders with obliviousness and eyerolls. I’ll concede that bitterly railing about “kids these days” is the prerogative of anyone over 45 forced to listen to Miley Cyrus, but I truly think intergenerational amity is a worthy and plausible goal—and I’d advise all those baffled by millennial bullshit to start by looking at the margins of youth culture, rather than their commercial representatives, who are obviously appointed by old millionaires anyway. 

Photographer Poem Baker‘s captivating series,Hymns from the Bedroom, shows a gorgeous array of young people—some bending gender, some subverting conventions, some simply looking beautiful. Her subjects are her friends, and she captures them with a vulnerability that reveals the intimacy of the shoot—an informal affair where she might snap only a few unpretentious candids before putting away the camera. From her site:

Hymns from the Bedroom is a personal journal of friends and people I’ve encountered whilst wandering around London. Most of whom are creative twenty-something’s on the threshold of their dreams and ambitions, ranging from performance artists, musicians, actors and fashion designers to strippers, transvestites and those who live on the fringes of society.

 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Man meticulously documents affair with his secretary 1969-1970: Here are his records
03.31.2015
01:26 pm

Topics:
Sex

Tags:
photography


 
The story would be dull—clichéd even—without the voyeuristic thrill that comes with the intimate details: a married German businessman and his married secretary, Margret, have a brief affair from 1969 to 1970. Everything you see here came from a suitcase purchased at an estate auction 30 years after the affair, and it’s an utterly engrossing collection of artifacts.

Not only did the unnamed businessman photograph the intimate moments before and after sex (including shots of dresses he bought for her—on the hanger, then on her, then on the bed), he kept keepsakes, including a lock of hair and an empty birth control blister-pack. The strangest part though is his “journal,” a series of typed, dated, wholly factual and completely emotionless entries—more of an impassive record of events than a log of romantic musings. Germans!

On their own, the photos seem to hint at a tender, maybe even loving time together, but the details reveal a much darker, volatile side of the tryst. At one point, the man’s wife confronts Margret, accusing her of disrupting a happy marriage. Margret is furious, and so the businessman then forces his wife to apologize to her. As delusional as she appears to be, it is this unseen wife who feels the most human, and one wonders if any guilt was felt on the part of the businessman or mistress Margret.

The collection is now being curated in its entirety as Gallery Margret: Chronicle of an Affair – May 1969 to December 1970, at the White Columns gallery in New York’s Meatpacking District, through April 18th.
 

 

 

 
More intriguing intimacies after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Fan photos of John Lennon in London and New York

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Being one of The Beatles meant being mobbed, followed and even stalked everywhere you went. They quit Liverpool for London for its mix of anonymity and excitement—and because everything happened there. Eventually, John, George and Ringo moved on to the stockbroker belt to find peace, quiet and happy isolation. But even there, Lennon had unwelcome visitors who wanted a photo or to say that they understood what his songs were about, and touch the hem of his clothes.

Eventually, Lennon moved again, this time to New York where he said he could walk the streets without anyone bothering him. Going by these fan photographs of Lennon in London and New York, it’s obvious he was just as mobbed by devoted fans in the Big Apple as he had been back in the Big Smoke.

These fan snaps capture Lennon from the late 1960s, through his relationship with Yoko Ono, to just before his untimely death in 1980.
 
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John Lennon signing an autograph outside the Abbey Road Studios, 1968.

More fan snaps of John Lennon, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Inside the Warsaw Ghetto: Summer 1941

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Since 1596 Warsaw has been the capital of Poland. In Polish Warsaw (“Warszawa”) literally means “belonging to Warsz”—a 12th-13th-century nobleman who owned land in the Mariensztat district. Warsaw was home to Europe’s largest Jewish population—around 337,000 in 1939, and 445,000 by 1941.

When Germany invaded Poland in August 1939, the Nazis quickly surrounded the capital city and launched a deadly blitzkreig that claimed many lives and destroyed buildings. The Germans were now in control of the country and in November 1939, an edict issued by Hans Frank, the Governor General, decreed all Jewish men, women and children over the age of ten had to wear a Star of David armband to identify themselves. All Jewish shops had to be similarly marked with a Star of David, and severe restrictions were placed on the Jewish population. Further laws limited the amount of money Jews were able to withdraw, with strict rules on buying produce, letting and owning property and travel.

In March 1940, groups of Polish gangs launched a series of violent attacks on the Jewish population—stealing money, gold, food, clothes and anything they could find of any value. These attacks lasted for eight days until the Germans intervened.

In February 1940, the Germans proposed plans to create a Jewish quarter or ghetto, where all Jews would be contained. On the Day of Atonement, October 1940, a decree was issued establishing a Jewish ghetto. All Jews had to relocate to this ghetto, which meant 30% of the population of Warsaw was packed into only 2.4% of the city’s area—some 400,00 people living in 1.3 square miles, an average of 7.2 people per room.

By mid-November, a wall surrounding the ghetto was built. The wall was over eleven feet high with broken glass and barbed wire on top and was constructed by the German company Schmidt & Munstermann, who were responsible for building the Treblinka concentration. The wall was paid for by the same Jewish community it was built to imprison. Access to and from the ghetto was limited to mainly food and supplies. The Jewish population inside the ghetto were allocated daily rations of 181 calories. The Germans intended to starve the imprisoned population. During 1941 Jewish deaths rose from 898 in January, to 5,560 in August. The average monthly mortality rates for the seventeen months from January 1941 to May 1942 was 3882. But death was not quick enough for the Germans, and in May 1942, 254,000 Jewish ghetto inhabitants were transported to Treblinka for extermination.

Willy Georg was an old German soldier who made money taking photographs of young German soldiers. During the summer of 1941, Georg was given permission to enter the Jewish ghetto and take photographs of the inhabitants. Georg shot four rolls of film, but as he was shooting a fifth roll, a German military policeman stopped him and confiscated his camera, he was then escorted out of the area. However, the policeman had not searched Georg and he was therefore able to sneak out the four rolls of shot film. He developed these films and carefully stored them along with the prints for the next fifty years until the late 1980s when he met Rafael Scharf, a researcher of Polish-Jewish studies, to whom he gave his pictures. These photographs were then published in the book Warsaw Ghetto: Summer 1941 in 1993.
 
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More of Willy Georg’s powerful photographs of the Jewish ghetto, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Can you spot the weird ninja guy lurking under the bridge?
03.24.2015
08:07 am

Topics:
Amusing
Unorthodox

Tags:
photography
creepy

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I’m not usually a fan of these “you’ll holler when you see it” pictures, but this one is kinda creepy and reminded me of the Richard Laymon book Night in Lonesome October that had a bunch of weird flesh-eating trolls who lurked under a bridge.

This guy is probably no cannibal (I hope), but the figure he does cut is definitely rather eerie.

reddit user youeatMYboogers was taking photographs of underneath the 4th Street Bridge, Los Angeles, unaware he was being spied on. It wasn’t until he got home did he notice his secret observer.
 
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Do you see him now?

The photographer had no idea that he and his friend were being watched by this guy for over twenty minutes.

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Crime Wave: Vintage photos of when Chicago was a gangster’s paradise

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Stick ‘em up!: A cop with a gun.

Watching too many Jimmy Cagney movies as child made me think being a gangster might be a possible occupation. It was easy to imagine myself in charge of some numbers racket, or selling moonshine, riding the running board while blasting the competition with a machine-gun. Even the names sounded exotic: Al Capone, Bugs Moran, John Dillinger, Tony Accardo. Then I turned six—discovered soccer and the fancy footwork skills of players like Jimmy “Jinky” Johnstone and Harry Hood who made me think playing for Celtic would be better.

Gangsters and Grifters is a book of photographs compiled from the extensive crime archive of the Chicago Tribune. The book contains a collection of rarely seen photos of infamous gangsters, murderers, thieves, pickpockets, bandits, molls as well as the cops who brought them to justice from 1900-1950. These vintage glass-plate and acetate negatives captured many legendary moments in criminal history—from which this small selection has been culled.
 
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Al Capone making an appearance in court, date unknown. Capone had a seven year reign of terror on the streets of Chicago during the 1920s. He was believed to have been responsible for the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. He was eventually busted for tax evasion and sentenced to gaol. He suffered from tertiary syphilis and died of cardiac arrest in 1947.
 
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Cops examine guns suspected of being used in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, when six mobsters where shot dead—you’d have thought the cops might have been grateful. One of the shooters was thought to be mob enforcer Tony Accardo.
 
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Prohibition helped the rise of gangsters like Al Capone, who ran hooch and illegal drinking dens. Here cops inspect some of the alcohol Capone and his associates were running.
 
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Capone on another visit to court.
 
 
More vintage crime shots, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Beautiful hand-colored portraits of Native Americans 1898-1900

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Brushing Against, Little Squint Eyes, San Carlos Apaches, 1898.
 
In 1898, Frank Rinehart was commissioned to photograph Native Americans attending the Trans-Mississippi Exposition and Indian Congress in Omaha, Nebraska. Together with his assistant, Adolph Muhr, Rinehart produced a series of portraits that has been described as “one of the best photographic documentations of Indian leaders at the turn of the century.” Many of these graceful and dignified portraits were taken by Muhr, of whom former photographic curator at the University of Kansas’ Spencer Art Museum, Tom Southall said:

The dramatic beauty of these portraits is especially impressive as a departure from earlier, less sensitive photographs of Native Americans. Instead of being detached, ethnographic records, the Rinehart photographs are portraits of individuals with an emphasis on strength of expression. While Muhr was not the first photographer to portray Indian subjects with such dignity, this large body of work which was widely seen and distributed may have had an important influence in changing subsequent portrayals of Native Americans.

Frank Rinehart started his career as a photographer with his brother Alfred in Denver, Colorado in the 1870s. Together they formed a partnership with explorer and photographer William Henry Jackson—famed for his photos of life in the American West and for creating the image of “Uncle Sam.” It was under Jackson’s tutelage that Rinehart developed his craft.

Today the Frank A. Rinehart Photograph Collection consists of 809 glass plate negatives that depict many of the Native Americans who attended the Trans-Mississippi Exposition and Indian Congress, as well as those whom Rinehart photographed at his studio in Omaha between 1899-1900.

More from the Rinehart Collection can be viewed here.
 
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Calls Her Name, Sioux, circa 1989-1900.
 
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Ahahe & Child, Wichita, 1898.
 
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Black Horse, Arapahoe, 1900.
 
Many more after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Portraits of inmates from a ‘Lunatic Asylum,’ 1869

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In 1796, Quaker businessman and philanthropist William Tuke opened the Retreat in York, England, for the care of the mentally ill. Prior to this, those with mental health or behavioral issues were treated worse than the most heinous criminal—they were usually locked-up in bedlams, imprisoned in cells or chained to walls in workhouses. As a Quaker Tuke believed in the sanctity of life and of behaving kindly and morally to all humanity. This led him to build a hospital for the care of those suffering from mental health problems. At first, the Retreat was only open to fellow Quakers, but it soon opened its doors to all.

The Retreat changed the way mental health was treated in England, and in 1818 the first of four hospitals, the Stanley Royd Hospital in Wakefield, was built under the aegis of the West Riding General Asylums Committee. A further three hospitals were built between 1872 and 1904—the South Yorkshire Asylum built in Sheffield, the High Royds Hospital in Menston and the Storthes Hall built in Kirkburton—which became villages for patients and all four hospital together formed the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum.

Inspired by the Retreat, the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum pioneered the care and treatment of the mentally ill during the Victorian and Edwardian era. Gone were days of brutality and fear. Patients were cared for as best as was then able and according to the available medical advice. It may seem strange and harsh to us today—especially the use of confinement cells to hold some violent, paranoid and delusional patients—but in relative terms, our treatment of the mentally ill will no doubt be seen as harsh by future generations.

These hospitals were open to all who needed treatment, and by the late 1800s, the demand for support from the impoverished and mentally ill outstripped the number of places available, leading to more hospitals built. By the turn of the 1900s, with the rise of psychiatry and the “tendency to herding and regimentation” asylums “lost much of their early high ideal of individual concern and care.” Standards basically fell, as the patients greatly outnumbered staff, leading to inadequate care, which didn’t change until later in the 20th century and the beginning of the National Health Service.

This selection of portraits show patients of varying ages from the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum in 1869. Some of the pictures detail the patient’s illness—“organic dementia,” “general paralysis of the insane,” “imbecility,” “simple mania,” “consecutive dementia,” “mono-mania of pride,” “mania of suspicion,” “chronic mania,” “mono-mania of pride,” “acute melancholia” and “senile dementia”—but each photograph tells its own sad tale.
 
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More inmate portraits, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
New York City squatters from the 1990s
03.17.2015
06:53 am

Topics:
Class War
History

Tags:
New York City
photography
squatters


“Beer Olympics 1”
 
It’s strange to think of the 1990s as a bygone era, but artist and photographer Ash Thayer’s new book Kill City: Lower East Side Squatters 1992-2000 shows a New York that simply no longer exists. Thayer began living in a Lower East Side squat in 1992 after being kicked out of her Brooklyn apartment. As a young art student, she recorded the (mostly young and white) inhabitants of these crumbling buildings with a keen photographer’s eye and an unflinching focus on the decidedly unglamorous wreckage.

There is an optimism to the collection though; so many squatters looked at absolutely unlivable conditions and saw renovation potential—the picture of the pregnant women installing windows is particularly striking. Living in these buildings wasn’t even legal—they rarely had water or electricity, and were often infested with rats or roaches—so Thayer’s record of the LES squatters of the 90s is particularly precious, considering how covert many of these squatters had to be to evade eviction.
 

“Famous Pregnant and Building Windows”
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Off with their heads: Gruesomely comic headless portraits from the 19th century
03.11.2015
06:29 am

Topics:
Amusing
History

Tags:
photography
Victoriana

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Tales of headless ghosts or headless horsemen that haunted the night—most famously described in Washington Irving’s short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”—and the horrors of the guillotine were a source of inspiration for these gruesomely comic portraits from the 1800s to early 1900s. These portraits show a flipside to the orthodox notions of Victorians as no nonsense, straight-backed, straight-laced individuals, who would no more crack a smile than waste a nickel.

It also shows how keenly many Victorians (or at least those who were rich enough to have their portraits taken) were to embrace the advances in (novelty) photography—a practice that is still continued today by “paranormal street photographer” Krocky Meshkin and Edward Allan of the site Haunted Memories, who famously produced the “Buckley Family Portrait,” which proves we moderns can be just as gullible when it comes to headless hoaxes.
 
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More headless portraits, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Brutal, intimate photos depict the 1980s ‘heroin epidemic’ of the East Village
03.03.2015
03:21 pm

Topics:
Art
Drugs
History

Tags:
New York
photography
heroin


Boy on East 5th Street (4th of July), 1984
 
Anyone who’s hung out on Rivington Street the last few years might be surprised to learn that the East Village was one of the scariest parts of New York just a few decades ago. Not for nothing did one police officer in the 1980s label Avenue D “the world’s largest retail drug market.”

Photographer Ken Schles, who lived in the East Village in the 1980s, once said that it was “like a war zone.” Schles witnessed firsthand the heroin epidemic and the AIDS crisis happening all around him. His photographs, many taken from his bedroom window, depict the urgency and hopelessness of a neighborhood in crisis. 

Schles’ building, where he also had his darkroom, was in disrepair from the moment he moved in in 1978; just a few years later, the landlord abandoned the building, leaving tenants to their own devices. Schles led a rent strike and worked to improve the living conditions, as drug gangs moved in on the space.

Unlike the romanticized imagery produced by some, Schles’ frank pictures offer no illusion as to what is being depicted. Schles himslf is disgusted by such idealized portraits and offers a refreshingly honest and pragmatic take on the era—as he says, “I don’t pine for the days when I’d drive down the Bowery and have to lock the doors, or having to step over the junkies or finding the door bashed in because heroin dealers decided they wanted to set up a shooting gallery. ... A lot of dysfunction has been romanticized.”

Schles’ shots, many taken from his bedroom window, provide blurred and grainy fragments, stories to which we do not know the beginning, even if we can guess at the grim ending. Eventually Schles’ fellow artists and gallery owners banded together to rebuild the neighborhood.

In 1988 Schles published Invisible City, which has recently been reissued, and late last year he came out with a follow-up, Night Walk. Together they add up to an intimate study of a neighborhood that is no longer recognizable.

Invisible City and Night Walk are on view at Howard Greenberg Gallery on 57th Street until March 14, 2015.
 

Couple Fucking, 1985
 

Embrace, 1984
 

Landscape with Garbage Bag, 1984
 

Drowned in Sorrow, 1984
 

Scene at a Stag Party, May 1985
 

Claudia Lights Cigarette, 1985
 
More after the jump…..
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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