David Gonzalez will be discussing his exhibition and the four decades of work that went into Bronx Life. Gonzalez will be in conversation with photo editor Elizabeth Krist.
“This is about a world that, to me, decades later, is neither forgotten nor lost. It’s a place where my mind and heart were stirred to life by the sound of Papi playing guitar by our bedroom window on Beck Street. Those boleros—which he had learned as a child in Puerto Rico—were beautiful and heartbreaking, dramatic and romantic. They were about a place that was physically gone, but ever-present—if only in his mind. Yet those songs kept him rooted to Caguas, a town he left at 14 years of age, and would never again see before his death in 1980. I would learn to relate.
The Bronx has always centered me. The stories of those who stayed, and the friendships of people like Jacob and Father Flynn, showed how to rebuild a community that had been shunted aside, abandoned, and incinerated. From community gardens to street fairs, from Hunts Point to Crotona—this series documents the random encounters with people and places that occur on the margins, geographically and otherwise. Along stretches of industrial waterfronts, parks and neighborhoods, I find myself at home, emotionally above all. I start random conversations with people about anything—the kinds of encounters that have always kept us together in good times and bad. My Nuyorican generation learned during the fires long ago how to weave through cultures, classes, languages, and even attitudes—knowing that our stories go way beyond victimhood, or being ignored.
These images, which span four decades, may not be what you expect—either of the Bronx or of me—especially if you’ve been accustomed to the usual urban tropes (or marketing plans). They have everything to do with the Bronx. They have nothing to do with the Bronx. This is my Bronx life.” — David Gonzalez
A National Geographic photo editor for over 20 years, Elizabeth Krist is a founding member of the Visual Thinking Collective. She is on the boards of Women Photograph and the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund, helps program National Geographic’s Storytellers Summit, and advises the Eddie Adams Workshop. She is collaborating on “The Four Elements” exhibition this year for Photoville, and last year produced “A Mother’s Eye”. She also curated the “Women of Vision” exhibition and book. Krist teaches for ICP and La Luz. Honors include awards from POYi, Overseas Press Club, and Communication Arts. She has judged for the Lit List, The FENCE, POYi, Getty, Instagram, Ian Parry, and the RFK Journalism Awards.
David Gonzalez is a Nuyorican photographer born in the Bronx. He has received his education from Cardinal Hayes High School, Yale, and Columbia. He began taking photos seriously in 1978, then shifted to writing until 1999, when he resumed making pictures while reporting in Central America for The New York Times. He is a founding member of Seis del Sur, and longtime co-editor of the Lens blog.
Photo: © Edwin Pagan/Seis del Sur
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