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Gail Victoria Braddock Quagliata photographed every bodega in Manhattan from December of 2012 to August of 2013, and even in that short span she saw so many shutter that it became depressing to return for second shots. “These stores are important because they are the city,” she said in a talk last month presented by Atlas Obscura at ACME Studio in Brooklyn.
The Brooklyn-based artist from Omaha, Nebraska started Every Bodega in Manhattan, she explained, while teaching in a Lower East Side art education program. While commuting she stopped in different bodegas on different routes “on a quest for an Anthora cup.” Searching, on the whole futilely, for that iconic Greek amphora-inspired cup got her intrigued by the differences between each store and how they distinctly reflected neighborhoods with their wares. Nikon in hand, she used a paper street atlas to mark off each Manhattan block as she documented this vanishing and uniquely New York place.
Defining a bodega, she admitted, is difficult. Some argue it has to do with them being Hispanic-owned, others that it has to be a corner store that sells sandwiches, others that it’s basically a car-free gas station. Quagliata embraced it as any small all-purpose, non-chain shop where you can buy newspapers, snacks, cigarettes, and other sundries. Through a Tumblr and Google Map, she kept track of the around 1,900 that fit this category, and the hazards of so much walking on concrete, such as the torn ligament in her foot and repeated resoling of her boots.
Inspired by Ed Ruscha’s 1963 Twentysix Gasoline Stations and Bernd and Hilla Becher’s 1980 Water Towers, she gave each bodega a straightforward portrait, showing their differences not in their lighting or setting, but in their details. New York is one of those frenetic, crowded places where a razor focus like this can be a way to orient as well as capture something of the city’s spirit, such as Jason Polan drawing every person in New York, James Gulliver Hancock drawing every building in New York, or William B. Helmreich walking every block of New York.
In addition to knowing where the best, cheapest coffee could be consumed, she also found surprises like a tiny beach strewn with sea glass on Dyckman Street in Inwood, startling juxtapositions like surgical supplies sold alongside ice cream, and creative uses of space like one cramped next to an alley and another basically filling a hallway. “People in New York, they take a small space and turn it into something amazing,” she said. But what came up regularly when meeting bodega owners was the issue of rising rent, and more than once she saw a new 7-Eleven move in and soon the local store would be gone.
According to the Center for an Urban Future’s 2014 State of the Chains, 7-Eleven increased its New York locations from 59 in 2009 to 123 in 2013, and a 2012 New York Magazine article stated that by 2017 the company was aiming for over 100 on Manhattan alone. The company is far from the only reason that bodegas and other small businesses are closing around the five boroughs, with rent increases and gentrification rapidly altering the urban landscape. Quagliata’s project highlights the way these locally owned shops are unique reflections of the city in a way that a chain is not, and how bodegas, despite their ubiquity, are disappearing.
View Gail Victoria Braddock Quagliata’s Every Bodega in Manhattan project on her site.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…