On Thursday, November 7, Slate published a provocatively titled series of photos, “Life as a Nazi Skinhead in Brooklyn.” The seven hauntingly beautiful portraits of neo-Nazi skinheads who ostensibly live in Greenpoint were taken by Adam Krause.
In an email interview with Slate’s Jordan G. Teicher, Krause explains that he met his subjects at a gym and struck up an acquaintance, hoping to gain their trust, after he recognized the logo of a racist band on one of their T-shirts.
Strangely, Teicher’s post does not mention two central facts:
1) That Krause’s photos were originally posted online nearly two years ago, and
2) That Krause deleted them from his website soon after, when reporters — including one from the Village Voice — began questioning whether Nazi skinhead culture was really alive and kicking in Greenpoint.
Gawker was the first to call attention to Krause and his photos. On February 27, 2012, Danny Gold published a brief post titled “The Neo-Nazis of Hipster Brooklyn,” which reproduced Krause’s portrait of a young skinhead clad in a black T-shirt with a black bandanna tied around the lower half of his face, seated in front of a backdrop of swastika-emblazoned flags. Noting that Krause was “full disclosure … a friend,” Gold outlined how the artist encountered the subjects of his portraits at a Greenpoint gym: “He soon gained their trust and shot photos of the group.”
But, concluded Gold: “[B]efore forming up the JDL of Williamsburg I think we shouldn’t get too worried. As a mutual friend pointed out when Krause first showed us the photos, it seems this is more a group of angry young men who are confusing Polish nationalism with anti-Semitism than any sort of active organization that poses a threat.”
That didn’t stop the Daily Mail from picking up the story the following day, briefly quoting Krause and reproducing all seven of his portraits — the same seven that would appear 22 months later in Slate.
The following day, Alexander Nazaryan published a post on the New York Daily News book blog, calling into question whether the portraits were the real deal. The Voice asked the same question shortly after; at some point in the interim, Krause scrubbed the photos from his website.
In their place, the photographer inserted a link to a Curb Your Enthusiasm clip about skinheads and a short statement: “While I appreciate the attention this story is receiving, the media exposure it is getting is making me a bit uncomfortable. In the meantime, I feel this video answers a lot of questions that we are all asking.”
Now, Krause and his portraits are back.
A pair of the images resurfaced in July of this year, in “‘The exuberance of it all’: Photographing Obsession,” a post Anna Wiener wrote about Krause for Medium. In it, the author writes that she found the photos online after a friend suggested her Brooklyn neighborhood might be a neo-Nazi enclave.
Neither Wiener nor Slate’s Teicher asked Krause about the photos’ controversial past. If they asked about the young men in the photographs — Who are they? What are their beliefs? How did Krause, who tells Wiener that all four of his grandparents are Holocaust survivors, manage to gain their trust? — they don’t mention it.
On Friday, WNYC aired a dual interview with Krause and New York Times reporter Ben Weiser; the latter’s in-depth story about anti-Semitism in an upstate New York school district had appeared in that day’s Times. WNYC’s Amy Eddings mentions during the interview that Krause’s photos were shot in 2009, with no elaboration.
The Voice reached out to Krause after the Slate photos and interview gained traction on social media last week. In response to an email asking whether he’d be up for a chat, he wrote:
We charge a $2,000 USD fee for interviews and usage. If you would like to move forward, please let us know
Teicher’s editor at Slate, Katherine Goldstein, assures the Voice that Slate didn’t pay for the photos or the interview, and that “[w]e were not previously aware of the controversy surrounding Krause’s photos.” Wiener did not respond to questions about her interview with Krause, including whether Medium paid $2,000 for it.
Do you want to hear more from Krause about Greenpoint’s skinheads? Make your checks payable to Tessa Stuart, c/o the Village Voice, please and thank you.
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