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photographs

From huck magazine:

The photographer who defined old-school cool

Street symphony

Posted
Text by Alex King
Photography © Jamal Shabazz

Jamel Shabazz has spent his life documenting the city that never sleeps. But while his shots of urban street style have become iconic, the bigger picture – a world of police and prostitutes, drifters and dancers – reveals something much deeper: a commitment to community.

It’s early morning in Rikers Island jail and a young corrections officer named Jamel Shabazz has just begun his first inspection. The residential wing is so hot that the stench of stale cigarettes and dead rodents hangs heavily.

There is a line of 30 units on both sides of the corridor, each one of them holding a juvenile inmate who may have trashed his cell, retreated to a corner or hung himself with a bed sheet.

“To make a physical count, you have to make sure a body is in each cell,” Jamel explains. And there is an abundance of bodies.

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It’s the mid-1980s and a crack epidemic is sweeping through New York City, generating a wave of violence that’s carrying thousands of young black men into the city’s prisons and morgues.

“It felt like being in a lifeboat watching a sinking ship and you can only help so many people,” says Jamel, thinking back to that time.

“But it didn’t stop me from going to work every single day looking for someone to connect with and provide direction to.”

Working in prison made Jamel’s mission clear to him: he became determined to steer young men away from ruining their lives, feeding a vicious cycle of regret. And it didn’t take long for him to realise how he’d do that.

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Think of old-school hip hop and, chances are, you will conjure up one of Jamel Shabazz’s unforgettable portraits. Jamel came of age during the birth of rap in mid-70s New York. He remembers block parties in Coffey Park, Brooklyn, where a group of DJs and MCs would “hot-wire” the electricity supply of a lamppost to keep the party going long into the night.

His photobook Back in the Days immortalises the b-boys, boomboxes and big hair of 1980s New York City in one cornerstone document. But the purpose behind these images has often gone overlooked.

“I don’t get caught up on the fashion,” he says. “My photographs have always been about the personal connections I make in my attempt to communicate what’s going on in the streets.”

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Jamel’s new book, Sights in the City, aims to redress that balance by showcasing his street photography in one place for the first time. It spans the duration of his career and illuminates the complex city that has defined his life.

Growing up in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn, Jamel discovered photography through his father, a naval combat photographer who taught him to carry a loaded camera at all times.

Initially borrowing his mother’s cheap Kodak, the 15-year-old began directing groups of his friends into poses and developing a signature style.

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Tue 10 2017 , by

Meet Me Downtown

Local Photographer’s work on exhibit at Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts

80 Hanson Place The work will be on view weekdays during regular building hours. (At least till Friday, 20th of October 2017)

Joel Barhamand is a Downtown Brooklyn based photographer whose work has highlighted the ongoing changes in the neighborhood. His photographs were featured in the New York Times article “Fulton Mall, Amid Change”, and his work will now be presented at the 80 Arts Building. Join for light refreshments and the opportunity to meet the photographer himself as part of the Culture Forward Festival.

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From Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York blog:

Monday, July 31, 2017

Before We Got Starfucked

Jen Fisher runs a well-loved book table on the sidewalk at St. Mark’s and Avenue A. Tomorrow, the table will become a memorial exhibit called “Before we got Starfucked: A Memorial for the Lower East Side before it became the East Village.”

Jen and the resident artist Ana Marton describe it as:

“A personal archive of a LES resident from the late 80s to early 90s of photographs, newspaper cuts, flyers and B&W Xerox books will be displayed on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017 from 530-8PM outside, on the corner of Ave A and St. Mark’s Place, where the bookstall usually is.

The archive is based on 80s and 90s events such as The Tent City in Tompkins Square Park, the annual Stations of the Cross, Father George Kuhn, and the fight against gentrification as it was recorded and put together by a resident of the Lower East Side. Seen in the light of today’s ongoing destruction of our neighborhood, we believe that this archive has acquired historical relevance as a record of the Lower East Side and the life it once contained.”

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Photographer David Godlis Takes us Back to the 1970s Bowery

Posted on: June 22nd, 2016 at 5:15 am by

Bowery, 1977

It’s mid 1970s gritty New York City and you’re perusing through the Village Voice when a large ad for a bar you’ve never heard of catches your eye. Night after night you find yourself heading down to this seedy part of town which has drawn you in with its sweaty air, loud punk music, and self-destructive shady characters. Having become a regular, you’re having another one of your many rounds that evening, when your mind clears for a brief moment long enough to realize the need to document this soon-to-be-famed bar when all the lights have dimmed and the freaks come out. Nights turn into mornings and you gather photos of what you see as just your evening routine, your 20-something wild days of partying and listening to people scream on stage while regulars lean up against the bar smoking cigarettes. Chaos-filled nights go by, but the story certainly doesn’t end here. It is the beginning of a fascinating one that involves the Lower East Side’s well-loved CBGB and iconic photographer David Godlis.

No Wave Punks, Bowery 1978. l. to r.: Harold Paris, Kristian Hoffman, Diego Cortez, Anya Phillips, Lydia Lunch, James Chance, Jim Sclavunos, Bradly Field, and Liz Seidman

Last week, I met up with Godlis at a coffee shop on Sixth Avenue, and we spent hours talking about his days (and most importantly, nights) at CBGB. Documented in his soon to be released photography book entitled History is Made at Night (it sure is), we are able to get a glimpse into what the real, dirty, sweaty, nightlife was like at CBGB from 1976-1979. Although Godlis admits that it was just his routine, that he was just living his life the way we live ours, he does admit that himself (and others) realized that something special was happening around them. Having previous experience as a street photographer, he was in the perfect position to take it upon himself to start documenting the scene. Although CBGB was filled with now extremely well known and famous bands such as The Ramones, Television, Blondie, The Dead Boys, Patti Smith (I could go on.. and on…and on…) Godlis understood the importance of photographing the locals as well. It is because of this that many moments, which could easily have been forgotten, are preserved. After all, it’s not just the big names, but the CBGB regulars that made the scene what it was.

Television, CBGB, 1977

Merv Ferguson, CBGB bouncer, Bowery, 1977

Richard Hell, Bowery rainstorm, 1977

Godlis’ pictures capture CBGB’s truest form using light that was provided from the street. Taken only at night using his hand held Leica and TRI-X film, they give an accurate picture of what was really happening in the dimly lit surroundings. Taking a closer look at each image, it is impossible to turn the page without wondering what circumstances surrounded them. Who was Richard Hell waving to? What was Handsome Dick Manitoba doing standing outside groping his girlfriend? Why was Merv Ferguson on the street randomly holding two beers? The fascinating part of his pictures is that each tells a unique story. And if you’re anything like me, you want to know more.

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from Creative Boom: Photographs of everyday life in 1950s New York City discovered in an attic 45 years later

“The vintage photographs you’re about to see have an interesting history. They all came from a cardboard box filled with negatives that was unopened and virtually forgotten for over 45 years. When undiscovered photographer Frank Larson passed away in 1964, his wife Eleanora boxed up all of their possessions and moved out of their retirement home in Lakeville, Connecticut. The box of negatives was one of these items, and it has remained with the family ever since, tucked away in storage.

That was until, Carole Larson – the widow of Frank’s youngest son David – and her son Soren were sorting though old boxes in their attic and found the negatives.

Soren said: “I had seen a few examples of my grandfather’s photography over the years and always admired them – our old family photo albums have a few small prints of his work in them. My father also used to speak with admiration about his father’s love of photography and his weekend trips with his Rolleiflex into the city to film places like the Bowery, Chinatown and Times Square.

“But when I opened the box and began to explore what was inside I was truly shocked at the quality and range of the images, as well as the effort, dedication and love he brought to the task. When Frank died in 1964, I was only three years old, and too young to remember this gentle, careful man.”

Inside the box were over 100 envelopes filled with mostly medium-format, 2 1/4″ x 2 1/4″ negatives. The packets were marked by date and location, carefully sealed and left exactly as he packed them 50 years ago. Soren added: “As I began unsealing each packet and holding the negatives up to the light, it was like a trip back in time, back to the New York of the early ’50s.”

Following the discovering, Soren built a website in dedication to his grandfather, sharing the negatives-turned-photographs with the rest of the world. You can view more of Frank Larson’s amazing photography at www.franklarsonphotos.com. “…

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from NYmag.com: How an 1890 Townhouse Was Brought Back From Near-Ruin

“Our first visits to our future Harlem house were conducted by flashlight because much of the building had been boarded up. It was impossible to work out what certain parts had once been like. Empty for eight years, it had previously been an SRO, a synagogue and school, and some kind of clinic. Tiny closets held unpleasant bathrooms, stuffed in after the fact. There was graffiti on the walls. The basement held two or three inches of water. The blocked drains had overflowed, ruining the ceilings. …

But it had been built as a grand family home, and behind the iron-spot Roman brick façade lay a stack of four oval rooms. Four! One would have been exciting enough. The house had kept nearly all its original fireplaces and a great deal of its paneling and plasterwork. It had been built in 1890 by the baking-soda magnate John Dwight, co-founder of Arm & Hammer. His initials were embossed in plaster on the dining-room ceiling.

Not long after we bought the house, members of the Dwight family got in touch to say they had photographs of the building from the 1920s, made when the family had left Harlem. Would we be interested?

Would we be interested! The album, together with the original blueprints, answered nearly all of our questions. Every room, except the bathrooms and the cellar, had been photographed. “It’s the Rosetta stone,” said our contractor, Mike Casey. Our architect Sam White (the great-grandson of Stanford White) said he had never worked with such a well-documented house.”

 …

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