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New York in the '80s by Frank Horvat

Photography // Friday, 21 Mar 2014
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The era of Ektachrome film produced some of the most beautifully colored photographs in photography’s relatively short history and during the early ‘80s the prolific Italian-born photographer, Frank Horvat, used this film to document the complex cultural climate of the Rotten Apple.

"Between that evening in 1959 and the beginning of my project, in 1982, I came back to New York more than a hundred times, usually to do fashion photos, but in most cases only for two or three weeks. All the same, I have calculated that these trips, laid end to end, would add up to a stay of about two years, which is equivalent to the periods of my adult life that I spent in Switzerland, in Italy, in India or in England. But if they were measured by their emotional intensity, the years in New York would count twice as much…

 

"This is what I tried to convey by the words ‘up and down’. The highs and lows of New York are not just the transitions from Uptown to Downtown, from the darkness of the subway to the view from the top floors of the skyscrapers, from the temperatures in January to those in July. But also the shifts, between one day and the next and sometimes between one minute and the other, from exhilaration to disappointment, from triumph to failure, from fulfillment to defeat...

"Because New York is the opposite of the inhuman metropolis, as imagined by those who have never set foot there. It is, on the contrary, one of the few places on earth - and possibly the only one - where homo sapiens seems to have successfully mutated into homo urbanus. With rituals, reflexes and unwritten laws, allowing fifteen million people, who have come from all corners of the planet (or whose parents or grandparents came from there) to live together in a restricted space, in conditions that are often uncomfortable, but without becoming too prone to ripping out each others’ guts - and sometimes even sharing a joke, a small gesture of support, or the hint of a physical contact that is not necessarily licentious."

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