These photographs were taken through the window of an MTA bus, making its rounds in one of New York City’s more expansive boroughs. Attracted by the prospects of confronting the complexity of the United States, which was about to be reshaped by a historic election, we had moved to Brooklyn from Italy in 2007, on the eve of a dramatic and traumatic transition in American political culture. Living in Brooklyn, feeling its special energy, and experiencing its complexity was an ideal way to try to better understand America in this unique time. Not owning a car, nor wanting one, we quickly discovered that the bus was a perfect way to get around and to see what was going on in the streets. The bus carries a special quality of truth, which makes each ride an intimate experience, different from what is experienced on trains or the subway. We were intrigued by the diversity, the vibrant atmospheres, the roughness, and the bittersweetness of what we witnessed.
This became the story we wanted to tell. The images in this photographic series, which we call “Brooklyn Buzz,” were inspired, in part, by Robert Frank’s famous and influential 1958 photographic project “From the Bus, New York.” Born of a passion for riding buses in our adopted city, these photographs are a result of the time-honored tradition of photographers taking the pulse of things through full immersion.
Contrary to the international and national stereotype of Brooklyn as a place for artists and hipsters, a myth perpetrated on behalf of God knows who, we found instead a vibrant, real, yet brooding mix of people and places, an ethnographic tapestry of races, cultures, and subcultures, all captured through the magical glass of the bus window combined with the lens of the camera.
The chance arrangements and amplification of this world viewed through the filter of a bus window was, for us, a case of poetic catharsis achieved through simply capturing for a moment the larger forces that shape this extraordinarily human place. Taken during the summer of 2010, the photographs are, we think, not a merely documentation of facts on the ground but also a vision. The tone of these images, though often forbidding, is of hope – or of Renaissance.
The BROOKLYN BUZZ BOOK: PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL - POYi 2013, Best Photography Book Award - Finalist