The palette of New York is too rich, colour must be allowed to have its say.
While I am riding in the New York subway, to some destination whose name means nothing to me and which I’ll probably never reach, because I’ll get off at a random station, to follow some commuter whose look has intrigued me.
Sixth Avenue. A dark-haired woman rushes towards me, her hair lifted by a back draft, like Medusa’s serpents. I see her in the viewfinder, for a fraction of a second. But did I press the shutter at right moment? With the right frame, the right focus, the right speed?
The highs and lows of New York are not just the transitions from Uptown to Downtown, from the darkness of the subway to the view from the top floors of the sky-scrapers, from the temperatures of January to those of July. But also the shifts, from one day to the other and sometimes from one minute to the next, between exaltation and disappointment, triumph and failure, fulfillment and defeat.
Most of these moments – or rather most of the slides on which they are recorded – will end up in the blue plastic bowl that lies under my projection table in Boulogne and serves as a rubbish bin. A few will survive my editing, my wife’s criticism, the objections of some of my friends, and eventually become entities on their own, almost separated from me, less and less dependent on my judgment.
New York is the opposite of the inhuman metropolis, as imagined by those who have never set foot there. It is, on the contrary, one of the few places on earth – and maybe the only one – where Homo sapiens have successfully mutated into homo urbanus. With rituals, reflexes and unwritten laws, allowing fifteen million people, who have come from all corners of the planet, to live side by side within a restricted space.