NSFW: Miron Zownir Captures The Gritty Underbelly of 80’s NYC - CVLT Nation
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NSFW: Miron Zownir Captures The Gritty Underbelly of 80’s NYC

Miron Zownir

My whole adult life, I have had a love/hate relationship with NYC. At this point in my life, I just don’t dig how it’s losing its gritty side due to gentrification. On a recent trip back, I saw that the places I used to hang out at are now gone, and have been turned into upscale hotels and restaurants. The Times Square I first saw that was filled with peep shows and drugs addicts is now a 24-hour Disneyland of consumerism (don’t get me wrong – it’s been that way for years). This is why Miron Zownir‘s photography book entitled NYC RIP is so important because he photographed a time in the city that will never exist again. His images show dirty streets filled with the weird creatures that used to infest the rotten apple. I love Zownir’s flicks because you can almost smell the sweat, blood and sex coming out of his glimpses in time. His passion for what he does is so evident and fucking inspiring. The old NYC is dying, and 30 years from now we might all be looking at NYC RIP, saying those were the days, while Mickey Mouse fights Starbucks for our attention! Check out an interview with Miron HERE!

In 1980, Miron Zownir emigrated to the USA, where he lived for the next fifteen years; first in New York, then in Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh. In New York, back then arguably the world’s most fascinating and permissive metropolis, Zownir’s peculiar approach to cover the city’s multiple-layered day-to-day lunacy was quickly recognised by the local scene as the TEUTONIC PHENOMENOGRAPHER (Village Voice). Shot in moody, expressionistic b/w, Zownir’s pictures from that period give a penetrating insight to inner-city sub-cultural spheres, which, in their original local context, have since perished in the boom of the 90s. His lens captured the untamed lust at the gay-parties, just shortly before Aids massively claimed its victims; the futile protest of artists and offbeat performers; the hopelessness on the Bowery; the shadowy world of hookers or junkies. Zownir’s photographs of the “Sex Piers” have become legendary documents by now. The shutdown and dilapidated port area located between the Westside Highway and the Hudson River, with its sunbathing section for nudists and the surrounding “halls of the anonymous lust”, was a popular meeting place among the gay-scene. Zownir meanwhile has gained the reputation of being one of the most uncompromising contemporary photographers. Some critics claim that Zownir, in his own characteristic manner, ties on where Diane Arbus and Weegee had stopped. But when it comes to the basis of his artistic intention, Miron Zownir would rather point to a quote from Kafka’s “The Castle” then being compared to other photographers: “If one has the strength to look at the things incessantly, more or less without ever closing the eyes, one sees much. But if one lessens the effort only once and closes the eyes, it all immediately vanishes into darkness.”

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