Since the 1970s and 1980s, photographer Arlene Gottfried has captured the beastly city of New York in all its glory, from the muscle men of Brighton Beach to the sartorialists of Coney Island and the glam rockers of Madison Square Garden. "I don’t think they’re freaks, because then I’d be a freak, too," she explained of her subjects to Vulture.
Angel & Woman on Boardwalk In Brighton Beach
The vintage exercise in documentary street photography captures the strange characters and inimitable moments that New Yorkers live for -- the many banalities that transform the city streets into a living circus, catwalk and stage. "My mother used to say ‘Arlene– just don’t wander!’," Gottfried told Lightbox. "Then I started wandering, but I got a camera because it gave it a little more meaning... a life of wandering is really what it all is."
Riis Nude Bay, Queens, NY
Over time, Gottfried's visual diary has accrued additional meaning, as relics of a New York that, in many ways, no longer exists. Her images chronicle the city's transformation and gentrification with a non-judgmental eye, capturing a select view of the infinite faces and stories that NYC has to offer. From questionable facial hair and fabulous outfit choices to young love and a flagrant weirdness, Gottfried's penchant for meandering results in incidental moments with a consequential aftertaste.
"It was such a big part of my life and a lot years went into it. You are a witness to certain things that are happy, sad and changes in the environment and those are all my experiences. If I got some memorable photographs and moments, then I feel very fortunate and I think that’s probably why I do it, and why the wandering has a meaning."
"Sometimes Overwhelming" runs from November 6 until December 20, 2014 at Daniel Cooney Fine Art in New York. Whet your palate with a preview below.