Start Making Sense

Eyewitness Photographers at Ground Zero

The "Here Is New York" flyer describes its mission simply: "We need to develop a new way of looking at and thinking about what has happened, as well as a way of making sense of all of the images that have besieged us and continue to haunt us." That need to understand terrible events has apparently compelled both photographers and viewers to come together here, and everyone is welcome. One man brought in four little snapshots of the ruined interiors of his apartment near the site. They're clipped to a wire not far from one of Jeff Mermelstein's terrific photos from the Times magazine and a black-and-white picture of a desolate Nassau Street in the wake of the dust storm that already looks classic. Though a staffer will be happy to identify the authors of individual photos (and sell you a $25 digital copy to benefit the Children's Aid Society), all of the pictures are displayed anonymously. "It should be a people's gallery," Shulan says one busy afternoon soon after setting up the space, "a place where I can put my kid's photo next to one by Gilles Peress."

The lack of hierarchy doesn't stop one image from being stronger or more artful than another, but it does make the experience of viewing them more immediate and seamless. While it's interesting to know that work by Joel Sternfeld, Angel Franco, Gus Powell, and Carolina Salguero is part of the mix, the star system has no place here. "Here Is New York" is successful partly because it's not about success—it's about sharing something that's still too raw and fraught with meaning to put aside.


In this "Democracy of Photographs," every picture counts: viewers at the "Here Is New York" installation.
photo: Jay Muhlin
In this "Democracy of Photographs," every picture counts: viewers at the "Here Is New York" installation.

"Here Is New York" is open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 116 Prince Street, near Greene Street, through October 28. Go to www.hereisnewyork.org for updated information.

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