Hedi Slimane’s New York Diaries
In celebration of VMAN’s New York Festival.
Everyone has their own New York story. Whether you were born here or came in search of something more, the city that never sleeps has always welcomed those who dare to make their dreams a reality. In the first of a portfolio series photographed by Hedi Slimane, V pays homage to the artists, writers, and musicians who continue to keep the city’s heart beating. Part one of the series can be found in V105 or purchased separately as a stand-alone edition, both of which are available here.
“[New York] has become so straight compared to the way it was [in the 1970s and ’80s]…There was such an incredible influx of young people with no money who just came here to do something creative. And people like that just couldn’t exist in New York the way it is now…The young people who are coming here now are rich kids, basically…When I told people in Milwaukee I was coming to New York, they all said, ‘Oh, you better get a gun! You better get a gun if you’re going on the subway.’ I mean, I was mugged a couple times…but I was always pretty comfortable.”—SuperDeluxe, 2007
Dani Miller of Surfbort
“The streets are magical. The people here are so hardworking and full of life. In bleak times, we support each other. My band—Sean Powell, Charlotte Wimberley and Alex Kilgore—all make art with different mediums (painting, screenprinting, film), and being in such a fast-paced, overstimulating place like New York breeds a hyper-creative environment. As soon as I get to my front door from walking through the streets, I already have many images racing through my mind to translate into my art.”
“My experience in seeing New York’s shopping streets was very important to me. When I was 14, I read Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness and I think my interest in the inter-subjective gaze comes from his idea of the child’s ‘mirror stage’ in terms of cities. Showcase windows use ‘mirror stage’ optics: when you’re looking at a display you see both the products and—on fragmented mirrors—distorted images of yourself as an un-whole body. A ghost image of yourself is displayed, superimposed on the product; if you buy the product then you can become whole again.”—Frieze, 2012
Hannah Mohan of And The Kids
“New York means getting used to the smell of urine and making friends with rats. Resilience, blinding passion, perseverance. It’s a city built for dreamers, by dreamers, at the expense of dreamers.”
“New York is what it makes you feel.”
“In a free lane, ghosts passing time
Heat rises, lights through the town
Blown soundscapes, blue city eyes
Black lightning, a new angel flies”
“Free City Rhymes,” from the Sonic Youth album NYC Ghosts & Flowers
“I lived through the New York blackout in 1977. Everybody had a really good time in bars—all drinks were the same price. There were only candles and a woman was directing traffic on 8th Street in a nightgown and a lantern. People immediately reverted to fun and togetherness. All blackouts (two I’ve lived through) and 9/11 had this New York collective intimacy, which I know as home.”
Jack + Eliza
“We were both born and raised here…I feel like it’s in my blood at this point to enjoy doing a lot at once, to like being overstimulated, to fear relaxation…The energy is just different here and isn’t comparable to anything or anywhere.” —Eliza Callahan
“I crash-landed in NYC at 16 in 1976 ready to riot. I was a teenage art terrorist, with a baby face and killer instincts. I moved into a loft in Chelsea where Lenny Bruce’s daughter Kitty was moving out of. The group Suicide were playing at Max’s Kansas City. They were my first friends. I started Teenage Jesus and the Jerks because spoken word didn’t really exist yet. Weirdly enough, half the songs were instrumentals.”
“All my life until 1968, we kept moving for my father’s jobs, so developed NO set of lifelong friends at all. New York is the very first city we have missed when abroad. Been thrilled to butterflies on seeing the skyline in a taxi from JFK. It is the place and community that accepted me, my ideas, and aspirations, without hesitation. We finally DO have a lifelong group of special friends. We love being private or partying without having to justify my choices. Being accepted after a lifetime of rejection, ridicule, and ignorance. Everyone can find their own chosen family here, the others who are their ‘tribe.’”
Q: What era best represents New York’s golden age for you?
“I first visited in the late ’80s as a kid. I was shocked by the homeless people begging in the extreme cold and how you were supposed to ignore it. Less shocking was the public sex I witnessed hours later.”