Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ninety Six Year Old Hero

This past week I restarted a photo project I on which I initially worked in 1993-94 about New York City's Lower East Side, entitled Manhattan Diaspora. The original collection of photos can be viewed here in the galleries by that name. After discussing my recent photo work with an old friend and colleague who, by the way, was instrumental in helping me develop my passion for documentary photography, I decided to revisit the neighborhood - places, businesses, and people - and do a twenty-years-later extension of the project. I found several people who I originally photographed in 1993, and I look forward to spending time with them again.

While I was walking along Grand Street, I saw in the window of the East Side Glatt meat shop an interesting looking man talking to the sales clerk. When I entered the store I was introduced to ninety six year old Max Davidowitz. I showed him a series of images of the original project that I had loaded onto my iPad, and he told me of some of his experiences mining coal for over three years while in the Auschwitz concentration camp. He rolled up his jacket sleeve to show me his identification tattoo, and in a flash I knew why I had to rededicate myself to this project. He didn't understand why I was so interested in him. He is a hero.