Directions: reflections of New York City
On Easter Sunday every year, 5th Avenue in Manhattan is transformed into a public spectacle. Voyeurs gaze and exhibitionists dress and perform for the crowds of onlookers and fellow parade participants. At the end of the 11am mass at St Patrick's cathedral, the NYPD close the avenue to vehicles and open it to pedestrians. The Easter Parade is more aptly termed a "mingle" as there is no particular direction that people move. It is a popular ritual that brings people out in large numbers to photograph and be photographed. In perhaps the most significant global centre for fashion and opulent consumption, the "parade" spectacle has the fitting backdrop of chic 5th Avenue. The upscale boutiques seem to overwhelm the aging cathedral and the religious significance of the day often seems lost among the posturing crowd.
The flash of costuming, from the elegant and traditional to the outrageous and bizarre, also contrasts with the economic disparity and isolation of the metropolis of NYC.
During the week leading up to the Easter and Passover holiday, several demonstrations were held by thousands of citizens outraged by police violence. In particular, Mayor Guliani and the NYPD had come under harsh criticism of their continued "crack down" on violence. The demonstrators, coordinated by various African American organisations in NY, expressed their outrage that the NYPD under the guidance of Guliani, was no longer serving justice but was acting with oppressive tactics against the black community. With more incidents of police brutality against unarmed black citizens, the protesters gathered outside the NYPD headquarters in lower Manhattan.
In a city with unmatched historical stature and trend-setting influence for North America and much of the world, NYC is an obvious melange of human, artistic, and pop cultural forces. As an outsider, I noticed a tension in the city, and an unease far beyond the superficial barricades of the demonstrations. In many ways, I felt the diverging forces of consumption, religion, racism and economic isolation were reflected in the literal and metaphoric signs and symbols of the street. This photo essay is about those forces, and more essentially, it is about directions: the directions gleaned from the signs, the directions our urban societies move in, and more reflexively, the direction of my eye as it sees: looking up and looking down in NYC
Easter Protest against Mayor Guliani and NYPD police violence
loneliness in the metropolis
looking down in NYC
disparity on fifth avenue
signs of the city
Grand Central Station