You may have seen their faces before, but never have they gazed on you so knowingly. Not like this.
Andres Serrano, a legendary visual artist who works with photography, is no stranger to controversy. His work “Piss Christ” incensed art world critics in 1987, and various artwork series incorporating bodily fluids have divided public opinion regarding his work. Andres was tapped by arts organization More Art, a nonprofit producing meaningful public art, to work alongside the homeless community in New York. Here he documents their stories through a series of images entitled Residents of New York. These large-scale photographs are on view in the West 4th Street subway station (south entrance) until June 15 and at LaGuardia Place (near Bleecker street) until August 2014. Additional images Serrano took can be found at Judson Memorial Church and in various telephone booths throughout Manhattan. The works evoke a sense of dignity and a level of comfort with the photographer. A compelling aspect of this work is the role reversal which occurs as a result of the subject controlling how they are presented to an audience. This produces a situation in which viewers are relegated to encountering these residents on their own terms.
Serrano previously completed a series of photographs working with homeless populations in 1990. Called Nomads, these portraits were styled in a studio, mixing the subject with eclectic props presented before a blank studio background. Residents contrasts with this earlier project by choosing not to separate the subjects from their relative environments, instead allowing the natural surroundings of the residents to manifest as part of the image. Still, the viewer is challenged by the varying expressions present in the images: at times inquisitive, challenging, and serene, the exhibition presents a catalyst for the viewer to re-examine their view of these populations.
More information on the work of Andres Serrano can be found on his website.
Judson Memorial Church celebrates community, social justice and the arts in various ways, which can all be found here.