Revisiting the South Bronx (4 Photos)
To outsiders, the South Bronx of the 1970s and 1980s was a notorious symbol of urban blight. Its abandoned, burned-out buildings and rubble-strewn lots were widely photographed as a testament to New York City’s social, political and economic failures. But six photographers of Puerto Rican descent–Joe Conzo, Jr, Ricky Flores, Ángel Franco, David Gonzalez, Edwin Pagán and Francisco Molina Reyes II–were documenting the people and communities of the South Bronx from an insider’s perspective. They didn’t shy away from the poverty, crime and violence: Theirs was a more intimate and sympathetic take than that of most outsiders. All moved on to successful careers (and other subjects), but after comparing notes at a chance meeting in 2009 and realizing their early work and careers had overlapped, they formed a collective called Seis del Sur (Six from the South). The Bronx Documentary Center is now mounting an exhibition of their collected work from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s that combines street photography, portraiture, crime scene photos and snapshots from the birth of hip hop. The goal is to create a richer story about the South Bronx and to expand the conversation about “where we’ve been and where we’re going,” says Bronx Documentary Center founder Michael Kamber. The exhibition runs through March 8.