A MORE COMPLEX NARRATIVE ABOUT LIFE ON THE NORTH SHORE.
For the past five years, documentary photographers Gareth Smit and Stephen Obisanya have been separately documenting life on the North Shore of Staten Island. Smit, born and raised in South Africa, originally took an interest in the North Shore during the aftermath of Eric Garner’s death when he photographed Garner’s family and friends while chronicling stories about a community in transition. Obisanya, a Nigerian immigrant raised on Staten Island, began his work on the North Shore as a means of recording the underpinning moments in a community undergoing transformation, exploring the foundations of human connection and condition through the lens of family and community.
The North Shore is a borderland — a place where the culture wars of our decade play out in the everyday lives of its residents: housing and a gentrifying urban landscape, policing and race relations, immigration and the experience of LGBTQI+ youth. At a time when global politics seeks to dehumanize, distort, or oversimplify, the North Shore offers a complex counter-narrative — a microcosm of contemporary life in the United States.
Two Views: North Shore explores two perspectives considering similar themes about one place, and provides a glimpse into the lives, and stories, of many. It is also the inaugural exhibition of Obisanya’s work in New York City. By presenting their work together, Smit and Obisanya emphasize how the individual experience of life on the North Shore converges and diverges in a multitude of ways. The joint exhibition also comments on the presumed singular narrative that photography so frequently presents. Through contradictions, reflections and refractions, Two Views: North Shore reconstructs a more complex narrative about life on the North Shore.
JOSEPH EVANS, Tompkinsville Park, Staten Island, New York City. 2017. SMIT
SWIMMERS, South Beach, Staten Island, New York City. 2018. OBISANYA