Mara Catalan, “Watching you watching me” (2017) spectators watching Polina Riabova perform “Working on it” at The Gateway

As a photographer, my gaze ends up deposited in images that are part diary, part autobiography, and part documentary of my perception of a world that revolves around me. This year I will publish my first book, Williamsburg: A place I once called home, a personal narrative about this particular Brooklyn neighborhood that I knew when I arrived in 1994. Williamsburg, before it was gentrified, was a place of desolate streets, closed factories, and run down buildings, where young people, many of them artists, came to live affordably.

For the past two years I have been photographing a new generation of artists, spectators and performers that have now moved beyond the borders of Williamsburg to Bushwick and beyond, in search of their own safe spaces and affordable living.

My ongoing project High Voltage became my energy source, my road to understanding a generation that has the desire to change the power balance through direct intervention on reality — giving more importance to creation and participation and less to the finished product.

As I went deeper into photographing my subjects I found a common thread between performers and spectators: they veered toward extremes to provoke themselves to confront social norms by giving themselves over to sexual and visual ways of participating.

Over time, my project has turned into an ongoing reflection of a generation alarmed by the rise of a new Puritan religious social movement that is imposing restraints on sexual expression, contraception, abortion, gender and sexuality — sharply restricting the freedom of individuals.

This is their way of challenging the rules of law and defending personal freedoms, now more then ever under fire.

Most of these events take place in theaters or performing art spaces with few rules or limitations — now safe havens for performers and spectators alike.

Mara Catalan, “Secrets” (2016)

Mara Catalan, “Moments at the front room” (2016)

Mara Catalan, “Unexpected moments at Bizarre bar” (2016)

Mara Catalan, “Huisi He performing at Pulsar headquarters” (2016)

Mara Catalan, “Not alone” (2016)

Mara Catalan, “Silent moments” (2017)

Mara Catalan, “Hell yes” (2015)

Mara Catalan “Olivia taking a pee after watching a performance at The Gateway” (2017)

Mara Catalan, “Fuck it” (2016)

Mara Catalan “Love pain” (2016) extract of Polina Riabova’s performance “Love/Pain” at Akichi Flea

Mara Catalan, “The viewer at Grace Exhibition Space” (2016)

Mara Catalan, “Hot wax dripping extravaganza” (2016)

Mara Catalan, “Untitled” (2016)

Mara Catalan, “Untitled” (2016)

Mara Catalan, “The sacred Union” (2017)

Mara Catalan, “Josh Kil engaging his viewers at Torus porta” (2016)

Mara Catalan, “Untangle me on Sunday” (2017)

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