The Underground New York Public Library
When I was a kid, I remember my father telling me in one of our cultural travellings, that someone told once “if you want to know the culture of a country you should visit their grave yards, so you know how the culture treat the ones who left”. This became a private tradition of my own since then. A tradition and a pleasure, most of the times seeking for a moment of inner peace and silence among the wise world of death.
Among living ones, people reading at the metro always fascinated me. I always try to avoid subways whenever I have time and the weather is nice: I prefer to walk. However, being and observer of people I end up enjoying both. And Metro can give us a tremendous sociological portrait of the culture you’re living in. Or visiting.
It’s quite curious for example the difference between readings, if you take the metro in Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona or Paris – the cities (with metro) where I lived and know better. While in Lisbon people don’t read much there, as they’re more in grief with their own sorrows (oh “fado” culture…), or throwing prudish glances to others, in Madrid you see more people reading pink novels or gossip magazines than real literature. In Barcelona you see a more mixed interests, with some good classics among some good contemporary literature. In Paris you see people of all ages, and especially youngsters reading from Sartre to Camus, philosophy, cultural essays, technical books and a world of diversity that literature can give including good contemporary literature.
As an avid observer of people, it’s hard for me to read in the metro, as I always get lost looking shamelessly to others and their behaviours. But I do read at graveyards, and being in Paris, my silent spot of reading is the Père Lachaise Cemetery.
This morning by accident – a happy one! -, I stumbled upon the work of Ourit Ben-Haim, a Moroccan photographer living in New York. And as we all know, when we go abroad we tend to see much more than the ones who are living there since they were born: we are discovering. Ourit Ben-Haim’s work is worth to see: she has an enchanted eye and for sure an avid curiosity, – by what I already saw from her -, not only the works of photography but also some creative poetry.
This series is deliciously witty: The Underground New York Public Library! as she writes ” is a visual library featuring the Reading-Riders of the NYC subways. This library freely lends out a reminder that we’re capable of traveling to great depths within ourselves and as a whole.”
Also, there’s a very important detail that she adds to each photograph: the book and author. Respect!
You can follow this series on facebook or on tumblr. And once on tumblr go check the funny play she does with the In-House Poetry. But don’t forget her own “shesaidunprintablethings” to see more of her work.
Here you have some of the photographs from the series “The Underground New York Public Library“.
And please pay attention to every single detail in each photo! Teach your eyes to be observers and you’ll get much more pleasure on what you see:
other essays you should read:
Jorge Molder: The King, The Captain, The Soldier and the Thief;
Genesis, by Sebastiao Salgado;
Un Soir Place de la Bastille;
The Neighbours of Blazej Marczak;
Portraits of Writers (NSFW);
For any other contact about 2HeadS or my Photographic Work, from Art Galleries, Curators, Art Collectors, etc, please use the GBénard/2HeadS email. Thank you.
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