This weekend photographs of the South Bronx in the 1980s will be put on display at the Bronx Documentary Center. While we've all seen photos highlighting the worst moments in the neighborhood, these images were taken from the viewpoint of locals. The more personal lens lends to photos that show not only the devastation, but also the personal moments between friends and family.
“Seis del Sur: Dispatches from Home by Six Nuyorican Photographers” includes photos from locals who lived through the Bronx burning and documented day to day life in the 1980s, not just what was being shown in papers. The six photographers behind the exhibit describe it best:
"The South Bronx. Known to all, understood by few. From the flickering mayhem of 'Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning!' seared into the minds of baseball fans in 1977, to the chants of 'The South Bronx! The South South Bronx!' of KRS-ONE. The borough has brand recognition. But what’s being sold?
We have all seen the images. Hell, back then, buses used to roll up Charlotte Street to show off the rubble to curious tourists. Hot-shot shooters came up, too, making their reputation on the run.
You can debate whether or not they discovered some essential visual truth during their forays into the Bronx. Some did. And some stayed, too, chronicling the borough’s rebound from despair and neglect. But some of us were here all along.
These pictures are our story, told from inside the neighborhood and our hearts. They reflect the world we knew as home, a complicated place we tried to chronicle as best we could."
The photos were all taken by six different men who were born, raised, and lived in the Bronx, but didn't meet until later in life. One of them, 60-year-old Francisco Molina Reyes II, recently told the Daily News, “In the middle of the devastation, I would always search for a jewel that would give a sense of hope and show people trying to maintain a sense of normality in their lives." And in an interview last year, photographer Ricky Flores recalled, "...it was a tumultuous time in NYC and more specifically The Bronx. People were horrified by what was going on and for us, it was like; 'What are you talking about?' We all had an unsophisticated understanding of what was going on in the world."