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In Brooklyn-based photographer Timothy Briner’s black and white bi-monthly photographic series Gotham City, Briner transforms contemporary New York City back to the moody, urban decay-filled yet glamorous New York of Lee Friedlander. Working with subjects ranging from a leather jacket on train tracks to advertisements such as Kiera Knightly’s Chanel no. 5 ad reflected in a bus stop shelter and signs plastered on a Dollar Store, Briner’s use of black and white photography reveals New York’s grimy beauty that has been lost in the influx of colorful Instagram photos of the city.
Born in Chesterton, Indiana, Briner is well-known for his series, Boonville, in which Briner traveled from Boonville, New York to Boonville, California, stopping along the way in Boonvilles in North Carolina, Missouri, Indiana, and Texas.
Like Boonville, Briner sets out to capture a portrait of New York through Gotham City, photographing a wide range of subjects and parts of the city. Even though New York is his subject, Briner does not fall into the trap of photographing quintessential icons of New York architecture. There is no Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, or Manhattan skyline in Briner’s New York. Instead, he chooses a grocery store named Meat Palace and ads for “Live Girls” projected on a series of televisions. Employing the reflections in windows and close-ups of city walls and apartment window blinds, Briner portrays the various textures of the city.
In a few of the photographs in Gotham City, the specter of Hurricane Sandy looms large from direct references to hurricane damage such as taped X’s on water-stained windows to the city’s recovery such as photographs of a couple kissing during the Polar Bear Club’s annual New Year’s Day Swim in January 2013 on Coney Island. Briner continues to document the damage and the recovery from Hurricane Sandy since the storm in October.
Words by Emily Colucci.