Stepping Through the Ashes
Of the many books of photographs that have attempted to capture some aspect of the attacks on 9/11 and their aftermath, few have managed to do so without coming off as exploitative, insensitive, or simply rushed. These two new titles join the short list of exceptions. Here Is New York sprang from Michael Shulan’s private reaction on 9/11, when he pasted a photo of the World Trade Center in a SoHo window. The gathering crowd inspired him to put up more photographs, and he and friends made a call for any and all images associated with the day. They hung the photos simply, selling each to raise money for the Children’s Aid Society. This book reproduces almost 900 of the exhibit’s over 5000 inkjet images (archived online at www.hereisnewyork.org). Page after page of full-color and black-and-white images show the graphics of destruction and the precise details of the city in mourning, framed by images of the towers standing. Many recognizable images gain depth in the company of those that show what many New Yorkers experienced beyond the TV’s eye. The now-touring show and this book are, according to Shulan, “partly an impromptu memorial, partly a rescue effort, and partly a testimonial of support….” As such, it is a moving record; for all collections. In the more meditative Stepping Through the Ashes, partners Richards and Altongy study New York after the attacks. Richards’s black-and-white portraits and cityscapes alternately express the chaos and stillness of grief. They are complemented by sections of commingled memories from firefighters, police officers, and citizens compiled by Altongy. Since Richards was not in the city on 9/11, this book doesn’t have any of the traumatic views present in other books: a welcome respite. Richards’s more ethereal images are not essential, but these books have a place with Magnum’s New York September 11 and Sterling’s homage to firemen, Brotherhood.
Rebecca Miller, “Library Journal”
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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