PHOTO BY CHERYL DUNN. MARY ELLEN MARK
"He is everything I hate in photography... Don't take that as a blanket statement," Bruce Gilden says in Everybody Street, a new documentary about the legendary photographer Alfred Stieglitz's influence on contemporary New York street photography. Most filmmakers probably wouldn't use that quote, but as a street photographer herself, director Cheryl Dunn understands that New York wouldn't be as exciting if we didn't have a few differences of opinion.
Everybody Street will be premiering at the Seaport Museum this Tuesday evening, in conjunction with the release of Alfred Stieglitz; New York, a new book from SKIRA/Rizzoli by Bonnnie Yochelson. (Yochelson also curated the exhibition "Alfred Stieglitz New York" which opens at Seaport Museum on Wednesday). In contrast to the grittier style favored by Dunn in her own book Some Kind of Vocation, Stieglitz tended to present an elegant, romanticized view of the city, often focusing on architecture and landmarks. Born into wealth and educated in Europe (before very famously marrying the much-younger Georgia O'Keefe), Stieglitz represented a type of continental glamour totally at odds with the down-and-dirty New York presented by photographers such as Mary Ellen Mark, Martha Cooper and Bruce Davidson.
"[The film] is anchored in Stieglitz's intent to bring to light the artistry of photographic love for this city," Dunn explains, and the film goes on to showcase photographers who collectively represent over 80 years of groundbreaking work. In keeping with the street photography ethos, Dunn's film will be arriving at the premiere fresh off the editing table. According to Dunn, being a street photographer requires "Being ready for anything," so she's used to working quickly.
"This was really a dream project," she says. "Being a documentary-type photographer is pretty much a solo venture. You are in your head most of the time. To have this opportunity to interview and film luminaries, in a field that I have been pursuing my whole adult life, was a great gift." So, if nothing else, we can thank Stieglitz for that.