This exhibition of sixty-five photographs by MacArthur Fellow, Camilo José Vergara, records the significant changes in urban landscape that Harlem sustained in the last decades of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first century.
The series has become a living historical record of Harlem. Vergara has been photographing this vital New York City neighborhood since 1970 and in doing so he demonstrates, with powerful “before” and “after” images, how Harlem has been redefined. As such, Vergara also captures the social and cultural changes in Harlem as he returns to photograph the same street corners and storefronts year after year. He continues to photograph these locations today and writes about his process:
For a long time I have thought of myself as more a city builder than as a photographer. I think of my images as bricks which when placed next to each other give shape and meaning to a place. I see the images of neighborhoods arranged according to time and location, each one … linking the hundreds of stories that are a place’s history. This is how photographs tell how Harlem evolved and what it gained and lost in the process.
This exhibition provides an invaluable view into the history of a neighborhood that has helped define New York City.