Les Rencontres de la Photographie, Arles
Until 22 September 2019
In the 1930s, Helen Levitt started photographing street life in underprivileged New York neighborhoods such as East Harlem and the Lower East Side: graffiti, people sitting outside on stoops or children playing are some of her central subjects. Contrary to the intention of traditional photojournalism to document social injustice for political purposes, she considered photography a form of artistic expression allowing her to merge everyday life with a personal aesthetic understanding. In fact, Levitt’s photographic language diversely adopted political as well as artistic debates of her time, she shows New York street scenes as though they were mythical customs or exotic ceremonies with an ethnographic interest. Many of the 130 photographs on display are shown here for the first time, giving us a nuanced glimpse into Levitt’s work, demonstrating her development from street photographer to filmmaker and color photographer.