Lucas Foglia: “It was crucial to me to show, not tell”

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Foglia reflects in the documentation of a city recovery almost two decades after this individual photographed New York the summer following 9/11

In 2002, Lucas Foglia shifted from his family’s little Long Island farm in order to Manhattan, New York. The city was deep in mourning. Not more than a year had passed since the 9/11 attacks. The tremendous grief and horror at what had happened were palpable. But , as Foglia articulates it, “people live outside their apartments in New York […] they are public; they’re extroverted. ” As he took to wandering the particular streets on evenings plus weekends — a 1973 Hasselblad slung round his neck — he stumbled upon individuals open to conversation.  

The portraits composing  Summer Right after   — published on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 — were born from those experiences. Without expectation, Foglia opened himself up to the town, framing its rhythms plus emotions through intimate black-and-white photographs of its diverse residents. The project’s gentleness comes along through in each picture. The work is distinct from your fleetingness and voyeurism that can characterise street photography. Instead, Foglia’s connection to each subject matter makes for intimate pictures. “I first try and understand how [people] think, and what they believe and encounter in the world. Then, as we create photographs together through that will commonality, we can have conversations. ”

The series also developed as a counterpoint towards the sense of threat and need to conquer that threat, which characterised political messages following 9/11 as the US initiated a global “war upon terror” to destroy ‘s Qaeda, launching decades-long battles in Afghanistan and Iraq. Foglia instead endeavoured to present the diversity of New You are able to and the beauty and dignity of its citizens. “I wanted the project to show the town healing, both in celebration plus unity and with some scars, ” he says.  

  Short reflections on 9/11 from several subjects punctuate the 70 photographs that compose the publication. These types of provide small windows in to the lives, hopes and concerns of those depicted. “Every Sept 11th, I’ve felt that same pain that People in america all over the country felt. It nearly makes me cry, still, thinking about it, ” reads 1 by Abu Huraira, the son of Pakistani migrants who was just two at that time and whose family dropped a close friend in the assaults. “I always felt closer to the victims, yet I was grouped in with the perpetrators. ”

Work accrues brand new meaning over time, and Foglia felt the series resonated in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. “It felt highly relevant to this current moment, ” he reflects, “as all of us begin to heal from the pandemic; healing that involves looking at other people with empathy. ”  Summer After was published on 01 September, a day or so after the formal end of the war in Afghanistan — a war that arguably finished as it began. The publication may then also be read as being a counterpoint to the militarisation that happened following 9/11. As Foglia observes: “It ought to encourage connection, ” rather than the kind of animosity that has described the past 20 years.  

Hannah Abel-Hirsch

Hannah Abel-Hirsch joined British Paper of Photography in 2017, where she is currently Assistant Editor. Previously, she was an Editorial Assistant in Magnum Photos, and a Facilities Assistant for Susan Meiselas and Mary Ellen Indicate in New York. Before which, she completed a BA in History of Art in University College London. Her words have also appeared on Magnum Photos, 1000 Terms, and in the Royal School of Arts magazine.

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