Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Broken Glass


I was reading Monday's online version of the New York Times, and came across a great piece in the Arts section about a new exhibit at The Museum of the City of New York. It is entitled, Broken Glass and is a photography collection of shots of 1980s South Bronx. The photographer, Ray Mortenson, who is from New Jersey, started chronicling urban decay around Passaic, and then decided to move to New York, taking the 5 train up to the Bronx.

His work is eerily empty of life, and he never shot people in his Bronx photography. As the article alludes to, his photos stand as a kind of testament to an abandoned time, place and setting. The bronx, in many of the parts that he went to, is light years different these days, and Mortenson hasn't been back in years. From the article:

Mr. Mortenson said he had not returned to those blocks since he stopped taking photographs in the Bronx in 1984. “I’m ambivalent about it,” he said. “There was something about being there alone, about that time, that I guess I want to keep.”

“It was kind of like being in a horror movie,” he added. “But that was all part of it.”

The title of the exhibit refers to a line from the Grandmaster Flash classic, "The Message."

As Sean Corcoran, curator of prints and photography at The Museum asks in the article, when he looks at the shots of these otherwordly places, he can't help thinking:
“How could things get to this point? What political, economic and cultural shifts could lead to such a collapse?”

This is a great question to ask at a time when all over the U.S., as the article notes, peoples' homes, towns and lives look and feel likewise abandoned.

2 comments:

Daddydan said...

I remember going around the hisroic district of Paterson, taking pictures of the old mills there, and I really felt like I was walking around some black hole, or vacuum. These buildings stood there like sentinels, or temples, to a time when the U.S. actually made things, and exported products. A time where you could eat in a diner in Texas that was made in Paterson.

I look at these photos of the Bronx, and it brings me back to walking alone in Paterson, and trying to remember how it was back when these buildings weren't just memories.

Kid Radical said...

Maybe if we don't bail out the big three this is how people will feel in the midwest? Though, I am sure towns like Flint already do...we need a new revolution in manufacturing, a green economy and we need it immediately.