Alain Levitt. NYC 2000-2005

30 May 2024 – 29 Jun 2024

Regular hours

13:00 – 18:00
13:00 – 18:00
13:00 – 18:00
13:00 – 18:00
13:00 – 18:00
13:00 – 18:00

Save Event: Alain Levitt. NYC 2000-2005

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HVW8 presents works by Alain Levitt.


Photography is more about time than light. The instantaneous click of the shutter, where light imprints an echo of a moment onto film that, with emulsion, becomes a tangible trace of a time that the viewer will never see again. Even digitally, it’s the same idea: we look into the past when we look at photography. So what kind of past do we see in Alain Levitt’s photographs? First, they are shot on film, so we see a time before digital cameras and social media sped up the time from the shot to the audience. This matters. Alain’s photos record a past time, perhaps the last time, that one posed for photos they may not ever see. This may explain the naked innocence that reads as vulnerable bluster or decadent swagger depending on the subject. Some subjects hoped they’d end up a Do, while secretly feeling like a Don’t. Alain tenderly captured that indeterminacy. At the turn of the millennium, hipster fashion drew from the seventies and eighties because the future was unimaginably bleak. Do’s and Don’t’s were about humor and horror: facing the ruins of a forfeited future, how else could one react but with sneering laughter? Surrounded by death with no job security, social currency and cultural capital mattered most. Levitt preserved in film’s incandescent flicker the last gasp of a fugitive, underground nightlife. Behavior wasn’t yet proscribed by clout. Photographic time was still produced in emulsion not gigabytes. Pinched between the glorious afterglow of New York’s subcultural heyday and the dawn of a life lived through a screen, Alain shot his friends as they stumbled through the flux at 4am. The images are timeless because his subject was between epochs, out of step with the rest of the world. Now two decades later, these don’t stand so much as record of a bygone era, but a blueprint for what being young New York City has become: a provisional gig-economy city driven by social spectacle. That fleeting moment in time has been preserved for all time.

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Alain Levitt


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