Here is New York
Here is New York with a thousand pictures succeed more than most. Two buildings on fire are spewing thick smoke, in a final gesture of despair a man jumps, down below people are horrified they look haggard helpless, cover their mouth to hold a cry, their face in disbelief. The pictures are now in the pantheon of the collective memory. They went in circle on the TV screens around the world, not aware of their impact and their life span.
To remember three images is not displaced but terribly natural, The force of Here is New York is that it offers a thousand more, not to forget that before falling the towers stood, that their fall was seen from afar, from the roofs of Manhattan were people stood holding each other, from a bridge where a man seen from the back has put his head on the railing as if looking at the panorama, from the streets where a man wearing a suit has picked up one of the many scattered sheets of paper to read it, where a woman is talking on a cell phone calling a close one. In the same alleys that have seen firemen, policemen, bankers covered with a thick white layer,a mix of ashes and dust.
September 11th lasted more than 24 hours. Here is New York reminds us of the following days the return of men and women, their kissing, their solidarity and compassion.
The photographer Gilles Peress created the project with Michael Shuler a journalist, Michel remember the look in people faces that showed so many feelings and attitudes, alienation, horror, suffering, anger.
On side walk and walls families and friends of the victims made shrines and lit candles, these walls became a space for messages and pictures of the missing. Ground Zero became a large scale demolition site were all New Yorkers mixed freely.
A man, pictures
Here is New York is democratic , the project collected more than 5000 images from professionals and amateurs. Seeing the new yorkers camera in hand Gilles and Michael had the idea, right away I asked myself were are these pictures going, what can be done.
We had to engage in an act of citizen journalism, in such a historical and moving moment it would have been foolish to separate pros and non pros. At first the order of the images follow the events of the day that was not however what guided Gilles Peress in his selection, I first looked at the similarities of the different pictures the closeness to the action, the attitudes of the witness, the different tones. I created different sections black, red, white and blue.
Here is New York is not only a book it was also a place 166 Prince street the gallery of Michael Shulan in Soho were for days people came to meditate share their sorrow exchange with each others and give their pictures. People queued up and many students gave their time and helped, the success of the book is that it looks collectively at a collective phenomenon.
Ten years latter the photographer remember his daily interrogations about the different visual expression in the analog world of the 2000 the majorities of images was made on films.
The advent of the many digital tools and of the social networks are then only an assumption. If it was to happen today how would we handle the flux of photographs establish a democracy images upon images. The attempt of Here is New York was close to the french literary theory of the 60's offer free text. How could we enlarge this notion of open text today with all the technology at our disposal?
Interview by Jonas Cuénin
Here is New York, Scalo Publishers