Location: Sag Harbor, NY, United States
Title: Loisaida Street Work 1984-1990
Medium: 6 x 9cm, 6 x 4.5cm, 4 x 5, 35mm color negatives
In the 1980s, the Lower East Side, also known as Loisaida, was as gritty, authentic and humble as it was exotic, vibrant and colorful.
In 1984, I moved to a tenement building on Clinton Street, joining generations of immigrants who had found their way to the neighborhood upon arrival to New York City. I photographed my environs as if living in a foreign land. The melding cultures, history and humanity I encountered inspired these photographs. I left the neighborhood and the work behind in 1990 to begin a new project that would become “Cuba:The Elusive Island” published in 1996 and “The Cuba Archive 1990-1996”, published in 2017.
For the next 30 years, I continued engaging with long-term projects, while the Loisaida work languished in boxes. A delve into my negatives during the pandemic found a trove of neglected and overlooked imagery.
Considering these images through a prism of history, I see myself as a young photographer defining my visual sensibilities and responding intuitively to my environment. I see a time capsule, unearthed after 30 years, filled with 1980s relics, cultural and geographical signifiers from a Lower East Side that has been radically altered through waves of gentrification. As an archive, it is a new and evolving body of work that is alive at the intersection of my personal engagements and observations, and the collective memories of the viewers. Universally, the images speak to the human condition. They reflect what is eternal and what is intrinsically New York City – vibrancy, diversity, co-existence, and eccentricity.