urban landscapes

Tanya Ahmed:

East 100th Street

East 100th Street 1
East 100th Street 2
East 100th Street 3
East 100th Street 4
East 100th Street 5
Building Character

tanya ahmed











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I live on a street with a history. A history that existed by itself but that was brought to the public’s attention by the Magnum photographer Bruce Davidson with his contentious work of the late 1960s, ‘East 100th Street’. The street’s reputation from 40 years ago still clings stubbornly to it today. I decided to photograph the main block featured in Davidson’s work, where I live, and compare the two works. Davidson’s a male, outsider’s work from the 60s, mine a current, female, insider’s. I saw the small body of work that I made as a postscript to Davidson’s. Not as a challenge to the weighty social issues of the time as Davidson had done, more a recognition of the current situation. A view of the community, its relationships and the physical landscape as it exists today. The aim is to bring a view and understanding of the life of the street and its politics into the 21st century.

New York is an ever changing city and East 100th Street is no different. Both Davidson and I photographed the street during a time of physical transition and it seems apt that the ever shifting reality has emerged within this body of work too.

From all of the photographs I drew what I consider the essential images that commemorate the time period I was documenting. A smaller selection of images, mainly environmental portraits drawn from that selection was presented as ‘I Call This Place Home.’ Following that two new selections from mostly unseen images were made by John Clark, the Creative Director and Andrew Conroy, the curator at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield and presented as ‘Shades of New York.’ Their choices explored their outsider perspective, their opinions covered by their familiarity with Davidson’s prior work and their own personal visualization of New York from a foreign perspective. Their curation presented the street with a tone very different from the way I had chosen to present it.

In this, the fourth selection of mostly unseen photographs, I seek to present the urban landscape view of East 100th Street., I seek to present the urban landscape view of East 100th Street. A little less personal, this selection tells the physical story of the street, the surfaces of the building, the placing of the buildings within the 300 block of East 100th street and positions the street in relation to the surrounding area of Manhattan. This wider view helps to put the details into perspective within the larger city scape.

Tanya Ahmed
Dec 2013