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Danger Pays: Something you certainly don’t see anymore — the tattered, tagged, menacing, gritty underworld of photographer John Conn New York City Subways.
From the NYT Lens Blog:
The late 1970s and early 1980s — when buildings were burning, fiscal crises were raging and the Dead Boys were playing at CBGB — were a macabre time in New York City’s history, a period when it could be said that the city resembled a haunted house.
The photographer John Conn, 62, spent those years documenting the subway system, what was then the dungeon of the city’s haunted house. His images from underground include a bat-wielding man in a hunchback costume, a nun absorbed in a tabloid newspaper with a front-page headline about an attack on the pope and a disembodied arm brandishing a switchblade through an open subway window. The images have a quality of ghoulishness: fear and madness, as if seen through the eyes of a frightened child on a never-ending Halloween night.
“I liked the edge factor,” Mr. Conn said. “Not knowing what kind of trouble I would get in next.”
He claims to have roamed the subways for hours at a time, with no more than a Hasselblad camera and his own blade in his pocket. For nearly a decade, he photographed the graffiti-scarred trains and the denizens of the subway system — capturing everyone from the homeless to shoeshine boys to bathroom attendants at Grand Central Station. Then one day in 1982, as impulsively as it began, his project suddenly stopped.
“I still see images now and then, but I just don’t take them anymore,” Mr. Conn said. “What I did back then, I feel I did it right.”
via: .SoHo Memory Project
I was blown away finding these photos by Charles Greenwood. The composition, shadows and architectural precision of lines — its almost like studying Orson Wells or Hitchcock cinematic stills.
Between 1972 and 1976 Gatewood made frequent trips to New York’s financial district…these images are ethereal, formal and emotionally void with an underlying theme of capitalism and control. This work was supported by two fellowships from the NY State Council for the Arts, and when the book Wall Street was published in 1984, Gatewood was awarded the Leica Medal of Excellence for Humanistic Photojournalism. This classic photographic essay currently out of print represents some of Gatewood’s finest work.
Excerpt from introduction to “Wall Street” by A.D Coleman:
A mutual friend claims that money is the real obscenity of our age: people will detail their most intimate sex acts before they’ll reveal their salaries or net worth. If there’s truth in that, then what Gatewood has delivered up here is a set of visual metaphors for that most secret perversion, high finance.
Since 1964, Gatewood has documented such diverse subjects as social protest, alternative culture, celebrity portraits, rock and roll, body modification, and the Wall Street area of lower Manhattan.
Source: Charles Gatewood
“Robert Longo’s iconic charcoal drawing series Men in the Cities (1979) depicted businessmen and women in an ambiguous moment of flailing impact or ecstatic dance. These photos, Longo’s own, are somewhat demystifying in that respect but nonetheless striking as we see the choreography behind his subject matter; the artist directing his models to enact an instant when a bullet hits home and photographing them in free fall.
These multi-literal shoots took place on a New York rooftop and Longo asked his friends to dress in suits and pose, friends that included Cindy Sherman and Larry Gagosian who were young and perfectly positioned on the apogee of that era of art, ready to embrace a spirit of abandon, punk and irony.” (From : It’s Nice That)
I’m so utterly freaked out by the competition (see post below); I’m cementing this video of 1970′s New York; Taxi Driver style set to yes, Bernard Hermann’s music of doom (includes: Bleecker Luncheonette, World Trade Centers, Village Cigars, Shopsin’s General Story, Adults Only Times Square and yes old Taxi cabs …)