Betsy Karel: America’s Stage
There is a bowtie-shaped intersection in New York city that draws tourists by the hundreds of thousands, particularly Monday night in anticipation of the infamous ball drop. If we can’t be there in person, we watch from the comfort of our couches as hordes of merry makers chant down the final ten seconds of 2018. Photographer Betsy Karel takes a insightful look at this crush of humanity, all seen from the perspective that “five New York City blocks are a metaphor for urban America today, where almost every inch of public space has been taken over by private corporate interests.”
Steidl has just published America’s Stage: Times Square, featuring 73 black and white photographs, that reflect “a vivid, almost hyper-realistic form of theater, one that is peopled by tourists, attraction-seekers, businesspeople, and the off-brand performers who make their living under electronic billboards the size of football fields.” Betsy states, “Here, many of the major trends of our society—consumerism, hypersexualization, hucksterism, surveillance, narcissism, globalism—are condensed and amplified. Fantasy parades as reality.”
Betsy Karel, born in New York City, now lives in Washington, DC. She worked as an award-winning photojournalist in the 1970s before she stopped photographing for 20 years. Karel is also the author ofConjuring Paradise (2013), published by Radius Books, and Bombay Jadoo (2007), published by Steidl and shortlisted for the German Photobook Prize in 2008. Her photographs are in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Yale University Art Gallery.
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