Pema Dolkar: The Tibetan nanny has evolved into a highly sought-after commodity in places like Manhattan more than two and a half decades after they began immigrating en masse. Tibetan women often gravitated toward positions that would help them acclimate to American culture, and their cultural tenets of kindness, compassion, and patience made them well suited to positions in child care. The Tibetan Nanny explores both the relationship between women currently employed as nannies and their second-children, as well as former nannies who began their immigration journey in the industry.
Cydney Blitzer: As an adoptee, I ponder many questions that may never be answered. Perhaps it is these unanswered questions that drive me to speak on what it feels like to be an adoptee. To feel completely alone with thoughts that cannot be rationalized away. Too long for a past which eludes you. To be stuck between two different cultures, two different worlds, and one enigmatic vessel. My experiences can only convey limited aspects of what it means to be an adoptee, but it is the goal that I strive towards inexorably both in life and in art.
Melody Ball: Soy Quien Soy follows Latina women redefining their Image. Often times we are photographed through a white gaze which portrays a false image. It also perpetuates Eurocentric beauty standards on to POC. By allowing each model to pick out what clothes, makeup, and location they wanted to be photographed in, this gave them the power to control their image. The way these models chose to represent themselves differs from the predetermined image of them created through prejudices and stereotypes. Instead of being defined through the gaze of an outsider, the subjects hold power of their image.
Bensonviews: Fragments is a series of images that documents life in Chinatown in order to convey its resilience during the Coronavirus pandemic. Before the pandemic, the image of Chinatown was lively, spirited, and reminded me of home. However, Chinatown soon entered a dark and discouraging phase with empty streets and struggling businesses. Chinatown had also been the epicenter of anti-Asian attacks since the virus is often referred to as the “China virus” or “Kung Flu.” As we walk through the streets of Chinatown today, its image of a vibrant, welcoming community seems to shatter into fragments. Chinatown has started to recover, but as wintertime draws near, the community fears another surge in cases. Is there still hope for a quick recovery? Is Chinatown going to be dead forever? Though Chinatown may be hurt and shattered by the pandemic, its residents are united by the same hopes and fears. The grim forecast of what the future holds is not ideal, but people still have to carry on with their daily routine, to make a living, and to fight through. Through black and white street photography, I aim to provoke the mood of solidarity that people are feeling and going through. Even if the immediate future is not hopeful, people still need to carry on with their lives hoping to see a better tomorrow. Through capturing the bits and pieces of Chinatown today as they battle the consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic, the community is in unison on its path to restoring what it used to be. The resiliency of this community will determine whether Chinatown will overcome this crisis or not.
Meghan Marshall: These images work to render the invisible violences of linguistic practices visible, present, and confrontational. The images focus specifically on the linguistic practice of naming women as edible objects, more specifically desserts. This linguistic practice has become extremely normalized in everyday speech. Common nicknames like “honey” or referring to women’s breasts as “apples” or “melons.” reinforce a collective expectation and vision of women as sweet objects, to be picked, sliced, desired, decorated, sold, and consumed. Due to the pandemic I shot these images with my roommates in our living room. It did not have the grandiose production value I had imagined. This caused me to find a relationship between textures and sensations of food objects with the female body itself- emphasizing the strangeness of this metaphor. This linguistic practice is inherently violent when you examine the words literally. And rendering women in this way is strange but is not obviously apparent through the use of language itself. This is what compelled me to pick up my camera. Through my images I work to physically depict and transform women into different food objects, or spaces of consumption in order to confront the legitimacy of this narrative and make the gaze on women in this context uncomfortable rather than desirable.
Muhammet Gencoglu: When you hear “New York City”, Rockaway is not the first part of the city that comes to your mind. However, when you take the A train all the way down to the end of Queens, you will come to a place where the environment means a lot to the people. The first time I visited the Rockaways, it felt like a place that shouldn’t be part of NYC but recognized as its own enclave. While it is a few stops away from Manhattan it exists in its own timeline and has different rules for the way people engage with each other. People from very different backgrounds call this place their home. Living in very close proximity, people from different religions, nationalities, cultures and ethnicities create an environment where you can feel the culture change just going from one house next to the other. While people are trying to go on with their lives, the way they shape their environment reflects on people’s understanding of themselves and the people around them. With this project, my objective is to capture how an environment has an important impact on how people live and adapt to it. If you walk from one end of the island to the other, you will see how people try to overcome their differences and coexist in an environment that is a clash between nature and man, which makes the rockaways special. That is why the Rockaway community chooses to live in this place. It is a neighborhood where people are willing to accept the struggles of its nature while cherishing the surroundings caused by the differences of its people.
Kavya Krishna: Although the South Asian population in the United States is relatively new, it has simultaneously evolved to be one of the most affluent minorities, with a substantial population ensconced in the suburbs. Using the folklore of New England (a landscape incessantly represented by whiteness) as a quaint and ideal backdrop, “A Town In America” attempts to reinterpret traditional imagery of suburbia by inserting South Asian personalities. Acknowledging the birth and construction of the suburbs and subsequent white flight from cities to suburbs, this project also explores the rapidly changing demographics of suburbia and the intersection of minority status and privilege present in South Asian spaces. The goal is to represent the “utopia” that the suburbs are often portrayed as, while acknowledging that its peace can oftentimes be complicated by requirements of assimilation and the idea of “The American Dream”. Through creating scenes that aren’t far off from the reality of the life South Asians live in the suburbs, I begin a dialogue about how, as minorities, South Asians hold a space of simultaneous privilege and invisibility.
Brian Uchiyama: Though the process of image creation in the camera may be comparable to our eyes, the photographic process stops in similarity as the viewer’s mind interprets the captured scene like any other stimulus that lay before it. Through the photograph, we are viewing reflections of stimuli that once existed, but are now distorted by two-dimensionality, memorialized time, and lost-context. The image lives as a true hallucination of the mind where the soul of the landscape is captured, but its material, emotion, and place in space is opened to new contextual processing. To examine the eye’s interpretation of imagery, I incorporated natural forms of ambiguous figures and conflicting light where nondescript lines conflict with object discrimination beside its simulacra. Moreover, I used prints, measurement and technological displays to explore the photograph and mind, the deceptive nature of photography, and the artificiality of each medium where every photograph must exist.
Chloe Dugourd: Ever since I was a child, I have had the same lavender romance themed toile de Jouy curtains on my windows, paying homage to my French heritage. When I had asked my mom about the images of the cherubs and couples in countryside landscapes, she would explain that toile patterns always told a story. To help me fall asleep, I would create stories in my head about the different people and scenes pictured on my curtains; sometimes I would connect all of them into one big story and other times I would use one scene to inspire its own new story. While at home during the COVID quarantine, I spent more time with those toile images from my childhood, a nostalgic form of comfort during tumultuous times. I became even more fascinated comparing the history of the toile patterns and fabrics in pre-Revolution France and the current political discussions, my personal memories of those childhood stories and how I have changed over the years, finding my own place in the world. Just as these scenes were an idealized escape for the French in the years prior to the Revolution, these images represent a refreshing break from the chaos of our current times. As described in a recent New York Times article “Why We Reach for Nostalgia in Times of Crisis”: “nostalgia serves as a kind of emotional pacifier, helping us to become accustomed to a new reality that is jarring, stressful and traumatic.”
Gabriela Aleksova: By masking as a kuker – a pagan spirit chaser – and retreating into the Balkan mountain range, I aim to rediscover what we Bulgarians are repeatedly taught as children, but rarely experience as adults: the power and mysticism of Bulgaria. Though our current lives have nothing to do with the greatness of our nation that we once learned about in our patriotically charged history classes, one thing that always lifts our spirits is our culture. The cure for these feelings of insignificance is found in our rituals, our folklore, our songs: they bring the Bulgarian spirit to life. Transforming myself into a kuker allows me to chase the evil spirits of doubt, shame and irrelevance; to rediscover my roots; and to submit to the mystical power that the Balkan holds.
About the Department of Photography and Imaging (DPI) in Tisch School of the Arts
The Department of Photography and Imaging (DPI) in Tisch School of the Arts at New York University is a four-year B.F.A. program situated in New York City. Centered on the making and understanding of images, DPI offers students both the intensive focus of an arts curriculum while demanding a broad grounding in the liberal arts. Our department embraces multiple perspectives and approaches which encourages critical engagement both in and outside of the classroom. Our majors explore photo-based imagery as personal and cultural expression while working in virtually all modes of analog and digital photo-based image making, multimedia, new media, immersive, and post-photographic 3D simulation technologies.