About the Book
This book of photographs is drawn from a larger body of work based on the environmental and economic problems of New York's inner city done in 1968.
I was 28 years old , only ten years out of high school myself, when I took these pictures, so I still easily identified with the personal and psychological conflicts and inner turmoil of these adolescent students as they left the comforting world of childhood and into an unwelcoming and difficult adult situation.
Add to that, the budgetary neglect and poor condition of these inner city schools, one could easily understand their anger and frustration.
Being a bit of an outsider myself, due to my own rather eccentric artistic inclinations gave me a sympathetic perception of the power balances and erotic awareness amongst these young emerging men and women.
An interesting point, is going against the current street photography and photo journalistic practice of being a remote and objective observer, while hanging out with these kids , I understood, to really express what I and they might be feeling , I would have to theatrically direct them, almost as if in a scene from a film, to play out a narrative story of their own histories and experiences before my camera lens.
I was just beginning to test out this technique of 'staging' which is quite accepted now as being an equal portal to a truthful expression, but at the time was controversial and threatening to the documentary establishment, even to this day.
A year later, I was to begin my project 'The Dream Collector" getting children to preform, as in a play, their innermost fears and anxieties as remembered from their darkest and scariest nightmares.
It was a first salvo breaking down many of the narrow definitions surrounding the "proper' photographic practice of the time and perhaps opened up for the next generation of photographers new areas of image making that were equally valid as straight reportage.
I am a photographer who enjoys making small surreal books of fantasy narrative.For the last few years I have rediscovered 'documentary' photography and no longer see the difference between that approach and "staged 'manipulated imagery as both are projections of the artist's awareness and imagination.