The Occupy movement through Black Lives Matter and onwards to the current Trump fiasco, protest has been a dominant force throughout the 21st century so far; let us not forget that political activism is not a contemporary fad, though. A city rarely far from the centre of historic moments, New York’s rallies, riots and demonstrations in the final two decades of the last century have been documented in a startling new exhibition of street photography at the Bronx Documentary Center.
From the riots sparked by the acquittal of Rodney King’s assailants to racial tension in troubled neighbourhoods; pro-choice, AIDS and LGBT rallies to social unrest relating to housing and gentrification; the perpetual recurrence of police brutality incidents and injustices against African Americans … New York’s street photographers were on hand to chronicle countless issues that plagued the city between 1980 and 2000; their images rarely seen in the pre-social media age.
Co-curated by former photo editor of alternative newsweekly The Village Voice, Meg Handler; historian and author Tamar Carroll; and Michael Kamber, founder of the Bronx Documentary Center (BDC), ‘Whose Streets? Our Streets!’ New York City: 1980-2000 has been designed and produced by Cynthia Rivera and Bianca Farrow from the BDC, and continues until 5 March; featuring the little-seen work of 38 independent photojournalists captured during two decades of rapid economic and demographic shifts in the city. Dedicated online platform www.whosestreets.photo is a rich source of information on the exhibition’s photographs, photographers and related social issues.
The 38 photographers featured in full are: Nina Berman, Bill Biggart, Donna Binder, Maximo Colon, Donna DeCesare, Ricky Flores, Frank Fournier, David Gonzalez, Lori Grinker, James Hamilton, Meg Handler, Lisa Kahane, Mike Kamber, Gabe Kirchheimer, Carolina Kroon, Corky Lee, Meryl Levin, Andrew Lichtenstein, Tracey Litt, Dona Ann McAdams, Thomas McGovern, Tomas Muscionico, Marilyn Nance, Edwin Pagán, Brian Palmer, Clayton Patterson, Mark Peterson, Sandra-Lee Phipps, Sylvia Plachy, Alon Reininger, Richard Renaldi, Clarence Elie-Rivera, Joseph Rodriguez, Linda Rosier, Q. Sakamaki, Richard Sandler, Catherine Smith and Les Stone.