The Culture Crush

There Is Freedom In Manhattan

by Andre D. Wagner

"I think the city is always shifting. I usually work backwards where I will photograph for a while, and then be looking at images and contact sheets, and I will start to see certain things, and I will be like, “Oh that is interesting.” Or I will see patterns. I like to work backwards and let the work tell me where to go in a sense."

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 "Magazines hit me up and are like, “Andre, we want your Bushwick photographs. Or Andre, we want your photographs of black people. Or Andre, we want Manhattan images.” And for me, I see all of these things together as one. I don’t see them as separate bodies of work. And I think that is the new stride that I am on. A little bit in rebuttal to how people want to talk about and share my work, and also just kind of being true to who I am. For me, if all of these people live under the same umbrella, I need to make a body of work to show people that they do live under the same umbrella."

"Magazines hit me up and are like, “Andre, we want your Bushwick photographs. Or Andre, we want your photographs of black people. Or Andre, we want Manhattan images.” And for me, I see all of these things together as one. I don’t see them as separate bodies of work. And I think that is the new stride that I am on. A little bit in rebuttal to how people want to talk about and share my work, and also just kind of being true to who I am. For me, if all of these people live under the same umbrella, I need to make a body of work to show people that they do live under the same umbrella."

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 "The title,  There is Freedom in Manhattan,  is a contradiction. Initially, I thought there is freedom, like these simple things about freedom, like you can be who you are, you are free to be who you want to be, or people can express themselves, or I can roll through the city all day and nobody cares that I am taking pictures. There are these qualities that may seem like freedom, but I also feel like when you say, “Freedom is in this place,” it’s not like you really have freedom." 

"The title, There is Freedom in Manhattan, is a contradiction. Initially, I thought there is freedom, like these simple things about freedom, like you can be who you are, you are free to be who you want to be, or people can express themselves, or I can roll through the city all day and nobody cares that I am taking pictures. There are these qualities that may seem like freedom, but I also feel like when you say, “Freedom is in this place,” it’s not like you really have freedom." 

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 "That one picture of the woman opening the door, that alone, I mean how many times do we walk past someone opening the door. For me, everything came together, with her jaw line, the way all of these lines work, the door being almost…just all of this tension, her energy, and then she is walking inside of McDonalds. You know. That’s fuckin’ Manhattan. I’m just like, “I know that day. That was me yesterday, fuckin’ going to get some fries. That was all I got that day." 

"That one picture of the woman opening the door, that alone, I mean how many times do we walk past someone opening the door. For me, everything came together, with her jaw line, the way all of these lines work, the door being almost…just all of this tension, her energy, and then she is walking inside of McDonalds. You know. That’s fuckin’ Manhattan. I’m just like, “I know that day. That was me yesterday, fuckin’ going to get some fries. That was all I got that day." 

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 "Photographer Mark Steinmetz talks about this  world of normal view , I think he calls it, and pretty much he said he wants his images to feel like when you walk down the street. When you see his images you are going to realize that this guy is actually seeing something that everybody else would just walk past.   The view is normal, we all are in this same place, but when you see this picture, it is going to completely change. That’s it. It’s not about an artistic effect, it's not about a filter, it’s about what this guy saw and what he made with his camera, this little machine. That is true beauty, because that was inside this guy’s soul. This is how he walks around and interprets the world. That’s the same way that we see everything. I think there is a lot of beauty in that. That’s his  normal view,  but when you see that picture, it’s not normal at all." 

"Photographer Mark Steinmetz talks about this world of normal view, I think he calls it, and pretty much he said he wants his images to feel like when you walk down the street. When you see his images you are going to realize that this guy is actually seeing something that everybody else would just walk past. 

The view is normal, we all are in this same place, but when you see this picture, it is going to completely change. That’s it. It’s not about an artistic effect, it's not about a filter, it’s about what this guy saw and what he made with his camera, this little machine. That is true beauty, because that was inside this guy’s soul. This is how he walks around and interprets the world. That’s the same way that we see everything. I think there is a lot of beauty in that. That’s his normal view, but when you see that picture, it’s not normal at all." 

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