Harvard University Press, 1970 First edition, second printing 1971 Softcover, 132 pages, 280 x 300 mm Condition: Near Fine
For two years in the late 1960s, Bruce Davidson was a constant visitor to the block of East 100th Street in East Harlem, considered to be one of the worst blocks of New York City at the time. It was his purpose to get to know its people, to earn their confidence and trust, and to describe in his medium – photography – as much as he could of their lives and circumstances. Davidson made no attempt to catch his subjects unaware; on the contrary it was basic to his idea that the photographs be the result of a conscious collaboration between subject and photographer. In order to preserve this intention, he worked with a large tripod camera, which slowed the tempo of his work and made secretive shooting impossible.
Most photographers have approached America's visible minorities as though they were exotic quarry to be stalked and captured, or as statistics that might buttress a political position. Bruce Davidson did a more difficult and more valuable thing: he showed true and specific people, photographed in those private moments of suspended action in which the complexity of individual lives triumph over abstraction. Through his skill, his vision, and his deep respect for his subjects, Davidson's portrait of the people of East 100th Street is a powerful statement of the dignity and humanity that is in all people.
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