20 years before there was YouTube, and Macaca, Critical Mass arrest videos, and the RNC, Clayton Patterson was capturing video that exposed the struggle between community activists and the often abusive NYPD. He dedicated his life to documenting the final era of raw creativity and lawlessness in New York City’s Lower East Side, a neighborhood famed for art, music and revolutionary minds. Traversing the outside edge, he’s recorded this dark and colorful society–from drag and hardcore, heroin, homelessness, to political chaos and, ultimately, gentrification.In the LES of the late 70’s and early 80’s, it seemed that it was impossible to take a boring photograph.
Realizing this, Patterson vowed to himself not to miss a moment, and he was a ubiquitous presence on the streets, in bars, and at parties, shooting literally hundreds of thousands of photographs and countless videos that captured the essence of the era in what might have been the most thrilling neighborhood on earth. For native New Yorkers, looking at his documents is like staring through a window to our own past, and the drugs, piercings, mohawks, kangols and graffiti on display are, in this context, not kitschy and nostalgic. Rather, they express the rich diversity of many little communities living together in a troubled little niche of the city, long ago changed beyond recognition.
Captured will be shown this Friday, August 22 at the New Museum, Bowery, New York. Following the film, Clayton Patterson will be available for a Q&A. Event begins at 7:30.
View the full flier after the jump for complete details.