Meryl Meisler : The World That Summer

“The change we monitored came to us through the shifting tides of our visual culture and the places that would slowly evaporate under the “future”. Disco Clubs, roller-skating rinks, the ma & pa stores, these places are where change happens”.

Everything had changed quite dramatically in the neighborhood. The sounds of children running down the streets had given way to the impetuous sound of the bulldozer razing another home in Robert Moses’ Post-War New York. The sound of roller skates on the street, atop which sat girls in pigtails and boys in Monkeys shirts was now a echo of a memory given way to the sound of steel being scraped and aluminum being crumpled under the machine’s claw. The summer radios set along long car hoods and the South Bronx Fire department summer opening of the fire hydrants in the city was now given way to that insatiable word; progress. New concrete would be poured over old streets, super highways of the future would be designed to connect more traffic towards the big city.

We noticed very little change in the same manner that changes usually occur, with a suddenness to mark its onset. The change we monitored came to us through the shifting tides of our visual culture and the places that would slowly evaporate under the “future”. Disco Clubs, roller-skating rinks, the ma & pa stores, these places are where change happens. It also happens in the environment for which our memories live, visually signified and binary to that of our memories. The rusted orange crush sign outside the corner shop, the peeling storefront where we used to buy comic books now boarded up with a yellow sign posted to raise awareness of its imminent destruction. The world that summer seemed encapsulated in a blinding haze of radiant dusky light when we look back. It was those long sweaty nights and those calming mornings walking back from the Bronx that shaped much of our beings. All the vestiges of a complimentary youth melding with scraps of memories from a cheap thrift store camera. “Do you remember”, “Do I Remember”….”Do We Remember”.

 

East Meadow, NY, May 1975 @ Meryl Meisler

@ Meryl Meisler

Spreading Wings at the COYOTE Hookers Masquerade Ball, NY, NY, February 1977 @ Meryl Meisler

 

“It beckons me to nostaligize for a time and place that I have no part of. In doing so, it confirms my suspicions that the relativism enabled through photography may not be overly truthful, but it can apply to a sense of being through shared documentation of personal experience”.

 

Meryl Meisler’s book is incredible. It is incredible for several reasons, first of which is that the images within are an unparalleled look into 1970’s New York. There are certainly hints of emulation happening in the images themselves… I can see Warhol’s influence, perhaps Diane Arbus, Winogrand, and maybe a few others. What I find fascinating is not only the time capsule of New York they represent, but also the vivacious manner in which they are presented. What you can feel in the book is that Meisler was deeply in love with the experiential and with photography itself. This passion makes the book incredibly successful and a joy to thumb through. It beckons me to nostagize for a time and place that I have no part of. In doing so, it confirms my suspicions that the relativism enabled through photography may not be overly truthful, but it can apply to a sense of being through shared documentation of personal experience.

Meryl Meisler
Purgatory & Paradise: Sassy 70’s Suburbia & The City
Bizarre Publishing

(All rights reserved. Text @ ASX. Images @ Meryl Meiser.)

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