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South Bronx : Sylvia Plachy

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The Andrew Freedman Home is a giant building in the Bronx that once housed ruined capitalists, victims of the system they fed. Their former quarters have been transformed, since last April, into exhibition halls featuring graffiti, painting, sculpture and material and photographic installations. The location, run down yet well preserved, a vision straight out of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, houses a room of portraits that appear to stand guard. The pictures are by Hungarian-American Sylvia Plachy
who spent the winter of 1980, with Village Voice journalist Vivian Gornick, alongside the Home’s residents. “I was charmed by the residents,” writes the photographer, “their putting on the show to keep the dark away; dressing for cocktails before dinner, singing and playing poker under crystal chandeliers. They were so much like people I knew as a child in Hungary. Haven’t we all fallen on hard times now and then?”
From these people, we see the waiting, the walks in the halls, the hours of knitting, the toasts, and above all, the stares. Stares that seem peaceful and smiling that Sylvia Plachy, as usual, managed to capture in these black and white pictures. Room 246, the name of the exhibition, is an homage to these men and women. Their souls undoubtedly appreciate the music that accompanies visitors and the dim lighting streaming in through the window, whose translucent curtain features the portrait of a resident ghost. Almost makes us want to jump back in time. Magical.

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