ALAIN LEVITT: NYC 2000 – 2005
661 N. Spaulding Ave, Los Angeles CA 90036
Thursday, May 30 at 7:00 PM 10:00 PM
Ends Jun 29, 2024
Photography is more about time than light. The instantaneous click of the shutter, where light imprints an echo of a moment onto film that, with emulsion, becomes a tangible trace of a time that the viewer will never see again. Even digitally, it’s the same idea: we look into the past when we look at photography. So what kind of past do we see in Alain Levitt’s photographs? First, they are shot on film, so we see a time before digital cameras and social media sped up the time from the shot to the audience. This matters. Alain’s photos record a past time, perhaps the last time, that one posed for photos they may not ever see. This may explain the naked innocence that reads as vulnerable bluster or decadent swagger depending on the subject. Some subjects hoped they’d end up a Do, while secretly feeling like a Don’t. Alain tenderly captured that indeterminacy. At the turn of the millennium, hipster fashion drew from the seventies and eighties because the future was unimaginably bleak. Do’s and Don’t’s were about humor and horror: facing the ruins of a forfeited future, how else could one react but with sneering laughter? Surrounded by death with no job security, social currency and cultural capital mattered most. Levitt preserved in film’s incandescent flicker the last gasp of a fugitive, underground nightlife. Behavior wasn’t yet proscribed by clout. Photographic time was still produced in emulsion not gigabytes. Pinched between the glorious afterglow of New York’s subcultural heyday and the dawn of a life lived through a screen, Alain shot his friends as they stumbled through the flux at 4am. The images are timeless because his subject was between epochs, out of step with the rest of the world. Now two decades later, these don’t stand so much as record of a bygone era, but a blueprint for what being young New York City has become: a provisional gig-economy city driven by social spectacle. That fleeting moment in time has been preserved for all time. About ALAIN LEVITT Alain Levitt – Born in Santa Monica in 1974, Alain grew up freerange on the west side of Los Angeles. Skateboarding, Graffiti, Raving – the trifecta of 90’s subcultures – helped inform his worldview and gave him a home amongst the outcasts. The same world he would focus his lens on after moving to New York in 2000. (Where he lived with Dill and Mikey for a short stint) Not yet a photographer, Alain picked up a camera out of necessity. His first job in NY was shooting street fashion for his sister, Danielle Levitt’s, Sunday style column in the New York Post – a job that required carrying a camera 24/7. Alain recalls showing up to Max Fish and being gently made fun of for his oversized Paparazzi rig. His second job, at the infamous gay bar The Cock, gave him a front-row seat to a wild NY that was quickly being choked out by Mayor Giuliani and provided enough income for this budding photographer to only work two evenings a week. More time to run the streets. Alain quickly found his community on the Lower East Side. Alife by day, Max Fish at night. And after starting a biweekly party, with Spencer Sweeny, at The Hole, Alain planted his seed in the downtown scene. These photographs represent a specific time in New York. A time just before iPhones, a time just before party websites. A New York still informed by the generation before that had sent out a beacon to guide us to a family we didn’t know we were part of. This book is not about the photographs but of a beautiful moment we were so lucky to be part of. With support from adidas and FA
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