A Field Day For The Heat by Tanyth Berkeley
JANUARY 8 - FEBRUARY 13, 2021
This collection of Tanyth Berkeley’s work from the last ten years takes inspiration from the 1966 Buffalo Springfield song “For What it's Worth,” which provides the title for the show. The song details the brutal response by police to counterculture protests of landlords over a youth curfew. The song is a stark reminder of how little has changed in the government’s response to civil unrest, especially during last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests in New York City.
The photographs in A Field Day For The Heat are shaped by the pandemic, the BLM protests, and the end of the Trump Presidency. Berkeley has made them by walking the streets of the city, talking to strangers, and making their pictures. Finding a deep emotional connection between the camera and the subject, Berkeley shows us the parts of herself that she sees in others and in doing so, getting to know Fire, a boxer; Tyreek, a kickboxer; and Elvin, a man with vitiligo permanently cast with the dappled light of a Monet painting on his face.
Berkeley chooses to avoid images that include indicators of gentrification, such as Starbucks, large chain stores, or franchises. Instead, what Berkeley gives the viewer are assertive people confronting the camera, chin up and standing their ground in a defiant celebration of who they are in the face of the oncoming waves of development. It is a New York City that many still know, a diverse group of people--artists, dancers, fighters, writers, students-- all of whom look like they would make for interesting conversation. Among them: an older person gracefully wearing a nylon eighties track suit in a color palette now seen mostly on stylish twenty-year-olds, a mime adopting a similar fashion-forward color palette, a red-haired woman in flip flops and a Victorian summer dress and more.
Berkeley’s pictures are a testament to the lively culture that has yet to be driven out of the city by the ever-higher cost of living, racial disparities, violence towards the LGBTIA+ community and the hand wringing over the safety of city streets. Berkeley has created in her pictures an aspirational version of the city, which gives testament to the ongoing hope that this multi-cultural mix of compelling New Yorkers will continue to survive.
Tanyth Berkeley was born in Hollywood, California but was raised in Manhattan, New York. She received her MFA in photography from Columbia University in 2004 and holds a BA from CCNY in photography and creative writing. Her work was featured in "New Photography" at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 2007 and more recently at the Tang Museum. In 2017, Conveyor Arts published her monograph “The Walking Woman.” She is currently teaching at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. In addition to her art practice, she is a mother and director of a community garden in Brooklyn. This is her 4th solo show.