How do you sum up something that’s so huge?

How do you sum up something that’s so huge?” asks Alexei Hay. “One of the only answers is the emptiness, the thing that speaks to whatever everybody’s going through. The absence is more telling than taking a picture of anybody.” Not long after the citywide clampdown began, Hay, like a lot of photographers, realized this was a fleeting extraordinary moment, one he wanted to document in a grand way before it was gone. What’s on view here is neither a completely depopulated New York nor its usual bustling self but something eerily stuck in between. These are middle-of-the-night photos shot in broad daylight, snow-day pictures without the snow…

The very overfamiliarity of some of the sites — the Flatiron Building, St. Patrick’s Cathedral — is paradoxically what, at this one unusual time, keeps you looking. Nothing is visibly wrong, exactly, but everything is wrong. Ordinarily, if you see pictures of normally busy and now deserted streets, it’s the emptiness that gets you, as your mind goes right to Vanilla Sky or the Rapture. Here, the thing that triggers alarm is not the absence of people. It’s when you see the few souls who are out and about, and they’re less than six feet apart.

~ , from “New York, Four Weeks In Portrait of an empty city.”

Don’t miss Alexei Hay’s photos in the New York Magazine: April 13, 2020.

Comments

  1. I worked half a day at a hospital downtown last week. And decided to drive around since I have a good excuse and proof that I’m out there working, in case a police officer stops me to ask what brings me there!

    I took the bag of bird food we have home and stopped to feed the birds, and a police officer on a horse did stop to see what this woman is up to, nothing essential!

    I was sure I’ll get ticketed for stopping my car on Michigan Ave. with flash lights on. But no, he saw my badge, said thank you, and stayed with me until I was done.

    The emptiness was haunting. I cannot say I liked the feeling. I so miss things the way they were.

    As far as I could see, no more than 10 cars on Michigan ave.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Indeed!! … ‘“One of the only answers is the emptiness, the thing that speaks to whatever everybody’s going through. The absence is more telling than taking a picture of anybody.” … Christopher Bonanos, from “New York, Four Weeks In Portrait of an empty city.”
    Don’t miss Alexei Hay’s photos in the New York Magazine: April 13, 2020.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s just so eeeeeeerie. Someday they’ll use these photos for sci-fi movies.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I was all excited as I received my copy on Friday (two issues arrived at the same time) and then I realised – not the same magazine! I get the New Yorker. D’oh. Those images are startling, aren’t they?

    There is no way to sum up what we are living right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I avoid going out here in Victoria because our streets, normally buzzing with activity (especially when the cruise ships come in} are emptyemptyempty. So damn depressing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Christie says:

    @Sawsan Thank you for Giving of Yourself Further in this Time of Extreme Need…your Soul Does Glow…
    My thought on the Policeman on Mount was that he wanted to keep you safe -even though the area is deserted someone coming along could mean another person harm…
    and I think he liked being able to connect with another…enjoying the rhythm of watching the birds and the opportunity to be silent while Gathering Positive Strength & Joy from another (you)

    Liked by 2 people

    • @Christie, I’m sorry I missed your comment. WordPress don’t notify someone you tag in a comment. Thank you for your email to bring it to my attention.
      It’s my job. And I felt the same way you do about the police officer. He stopped for my protection.

      Like

  7. ‘the absence is more telling…..’

    Liked by 1 person

  8. it’s as if Alexei photoshopped almost all of the people out of these images… dystopian…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It is huge. It will take a long time to really digest this experience. 🙏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Steve Renfro says:

    I was talking at my group a few days ago about how I had decided not to wear the big Rudolf head to the grocery in order to protect the dignity of the other shoppers. As I was talking I remembered a letter I keep from a friend that went down post Katrina to join in the clean up effort. I go to it after these disasters, but I’d kind of forgotten about it. Its long, but you might find it of some interest.
    https://srevestories.blogspot.com/2008/09/dont-do-me-this-tanya.html

    Liked by 1 person

  11. donkouyout says:

    By using your brain…..

    Liked by 1 person

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