Navjot Altaf
A Place in New York

Essay by

Usma. Z .Rizvi

Soft bound 169 pages with more than 128 colour plates
Pages with text 85

Publishers by The Guild

‘A Place in New York’ is an outcome of an interactive project Navjot Altaf did during an eight week residency in 2008. Done shortly after her project Bombay Shots in Mumbai what intrigued her here too, was people’s interest in a dialogue and the richness of heterodoxy of the city and how coming from diverse cultures and backgrounds they make both Bombay and New York the most vital cities. 

“Through these images, we as viewers, come to recognize the agency of each participant to recognize one’s self as the identity invoked. The series taps into issues of claiming and belonging to the city, a process especially vexed for new immigrants in a city of immigrants. The photograph’s documentary claims transforms it into a sort of visual contract between artist and subject that validates each individual’s presence in their chosen space, their claim to that place, marking it with a sense of their belonging. The use digital media and photomontage complicates the specificity of location, however, the interview text and sound installation ground it again. As Ariella Azoulay argues in The Civil Contract of Photography: “Photography, at times, is the only civic refuge at the disposal of those robbed of citizenship.” Though it is not always citizenship in question here (though in some cases it might be), Azoulay’s observation provides insight into how the photograph becomes tool through which individuals locate their identities in place. This process is, unsurprisingly, particularly poignant for the immigrants documented in the project. (Excerpt from an essay Empire State of Mind by Uzma Z. Rizvi, 2011)

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