A New Documentary Turns the Lens on New York’s Luminary Curbside Photographers
From sidewalk antics in Harlem with Bruce Davidson to people-watching with Magnum veteran Elliot Erwitt, a new feature-length documentary by Cheryl Dunn chronicles the pioneering photographers making their mark on the streets of New York. For three years the photographer and filmmaker—whose work has shown at the The Hole, MoCA and OHWOW—trawled archives, visited old haunts and relived the heyday of Studio 54 to trace the history of NYC photography. “I wanted to meet my idols so I went to the streets and followed their footsteps,” says Dunn of the Kickstarter-funded feature. “You stand there for five minutes, you’re going to see something funny.” Having been shown at the Tate Modern in London, and also featuring Bruce Gilden, Joel Meyerowitz, Rebecca Lepkoff and Mary Ellen Mark, the film premieres this week at Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto. “It’s a meter for culture and what’s happening in the world,” adds the filmmaker. “You never finish the mission; the street is constantly evolving.”
Seven Top Models Assume Unlikely New Professions in the French Video Artist's New Short
The lives of a mechanic, maid and lifeguard take on glamorous new guises with a little help from models including Dorothea Barth Jorgensen, Cameron Russell and Hilary Rhoda in this new short from French video artist Marie Vic. Gearing up for the grueling month of fashion shows around the globe, the seven beauties in the film, all represented by Elite New York City, pose and preen in a tongue-in-cheek take on an alternative career path. “I like to play with props and I really take pleasure seeing things out of context,” explains Vic, who received an MFA in photography from Parsons The New School for Design and has exhibited at the Hendershot Gallery and Eyebeam in New York. “I wanted to compose an eclectic collection of ambiances where the models interact with an arrangement of accessories in a given area of New York to create an oxymoronic situation.” The varied locations include The Mark Hotel in Upper East Side Manhattan, a vogueing ball in Harlem and the boardwalk of Brighton Beach. Vic, who handled every aspect of the production apart from the music, filmed one model individually in each of the locales to create the disparate tableaux. As the director says: “The only thing that runs through the whole video is one pair of Pierre Hardy shoes!” We caught up with Maryland-born Rhoda about the pitfalls and necessities of fashion week.
A Bespoke Edit of Emily Kai Bock's Cutting-Edge Documentary on NYC’s Rap Underground
Mykki Blanco, Angel Haze and C.J. Fly hold forth in this exclusive edit of filmmaker Emily Kai Bock’s new documentary on New York’s underground rap scene, Spit Gold Under An Empire. “So many people there are really pushing the form,” she says of the city's hip-hop avant-garde. “It’s the most interesting and authentic thing going on.” Filmed largely in Brooklyn, the movement’s epicenter provided its own backbeat. “When you’re there, you can hear people in the apartments above and below you, people yelling on the street and car radios going by—it’s like a backing track, and if you’re raised there, it’s in your blood,” says Bock, a rising Montreal-based director with a fine art background who hit the ground running on the music scene with her stunning video for Grimes’ “Oblivion,” which became an overnight sensation. Produced by Somesuch & Co. and set to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this week alongside efforts from independent directors Abteen Bagheri, Bob Harlow and Tyrone Lebon, the short is part of a series exploring the musical lives of American cities including the New Orleans bounce craze, shoegaze in Portland and Detroit’s warehouse scene.
Click here to view Spit Gold Under an Empire in full, alongside other works in the New American Noise documentary project, from January 19.