Seven days later
This is the New York I saw 16 years ago
In the urban quotidian of New York’s megalopolis, offer and demand are fulfilled instantly. There is no interval. No hiatus. What is wanted is attainable. What is not available is created. And the incessant advertisements generates a demand which is instantly satisfied. When I returned to the city seven days after the September 11th attacks, the metropolis still exposed its routine of offer and demand, but the offer was one, and the demand was another.
To the commercial plea gathered others. Hundred of others. Covering all surfaces it announced absences. It approached us at each corner, and stalked us from walls and street signs. With their brilliant eyes and open smiles; in their best suits and most beautiful gowns. They offered their attributes, companies, and positions; Described the color of their skin, tattoos, height, and weight.
At first glance, the commercial appeal was silenced by the overlapping of human pleas. But at a closer look, instead of canceling each other the messages were reinforced. The frivolous nature of advertisements became exacerbated when juxtaposed against the disaster; and the human tragedy became even more absurd. In the competition for an audience, the medium became the message. Any surface became media. From this cohabitation of concrete tragedy and the vestiges of advertising, an urban space permeated by irony was created. Within the context now experienced by the audience, street signs, and billboards were infested by ironic messages with borderline sarcasm.
These images capture a brief instant in the American landscape during the aftermath of the September 11th attacks — Seven days later, they were not victims, only missing; They hadn’t declared war, they were only looking for the culprits; They were not abdicating of their rights, only respecting authority activities; They were not exploiting patriotism, they were only selling post-cards; They were not exporting democracy, only paying for its price.
A selection of these images was published in the book “Here is New York” and incorporated to the archives of the New York Historical Society. A solo exhibition at the School of Communication at the Pontifical University of Minas Gerais, Brazil in remembrance of the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks displayed this photo essay in its entirety. Complete photo essay at http://www.jennifercabral.com