I have lived in New York City for most of my life. It is hard to imagine living anywhere else, although some months, like February, it is quite nice to. What Im trying to accomplish here is not so much to show the city as it is, but as it can be. New York is such a visually dense environment that trying to isolate one person or place is quite difficult – everything is embedded.
As Im moving back and forth from spontaneous compositions to carefully considered ones, different boroughs, via various subway lines, Im trying to find new ways to present the city and the people. New York is in some ways is a microcosm of America, and also the world – how we live here certainly has implications for what the future everywhere else will be like and what that future possibly could be.
If you accept the argument that New York City is one of the crown jewels of civilization, it raises some interesting questions. Like, why arent New Yorkers more civil? Why doesnt Moscow have a gay parade? Why arent all bagels in the world like the bagles here? While I cant answer those questions (that last one is a doozy), it is pretty clear to anyone who has spent any amount of time here that New York City is just different. Why?
There’s something to the density: we’re all on top of each other, we all take the subway together and walk the same streets, swear at the same blackened piles of slush, sit in the same traffic and eat the same pizza. The constant proximity of fellow city dwellers has an inherently humanizing quality. Beyond that, everybody in New York City, in some way or another, is hustling (to paraphrase Malcolm X). Sometimes the energy on a Friday summer night just feels electric.
While as a photographer capturing that lighting in a bottle feeling has never been easy, living inside of that bottle with the lightning isnt exactly easy either. New York doesnt just chew some people up, it is constantly chewing everybody here up. To tolerate this relentless mastication of your soul, you need a damn good reason to be here.
These reasons bind us together, if we didnt have them we’d all just leave, right? After a just a few years of living here, the city stains you in an indelible way. You will be scarred for life. You might go, but part of you will remain here, forever digested into the bowels of the city. Those who can and need to escape will. The rest of us? We just grit our teeth and dig in, and we’re all a little closer because of it.