Newsstand, New York City, Dan Weiner
Labeled as an American photojournalist, Dan Weiner’s photography career began professionally in 1940, in which he documented both the commercial and political as his photographic subjects. Photography started as an interest and hobby for Weiner, but later grew to become a medium in which a larger understanding of the world at large can be understood visually. Weiner’s work primarily consisted of a mix of a historical and wartime views, documenting the times and its people as a teller of their collective experiences.
Newsstand portrays a dimly lit booth with an older man and woman positioned inside. With piles of newspapers surrounding them on the table, their rectangular office with a backdoor and glass window encloses them within the piles of papers for sale. Sectional windows further divide the scene, separating the man and woman in view. The man looking down and away from the window peers into his cloth, his nose absorbed in its material. Besides him, a woman with her head covered and mouth gaping open as she looks ahead. Directed by the man’s lowered head, the photographs’ compositional arrangement follows his gaze through the image. The photograph itself is high in contrast, with light flares in the areas illuminated by a light source and very little detail retained in darker areas in the lower regions of the newsstand. With limited visibility outside the perimeter of the newsstand, focus is placed on the two subjects enclosed in the singularly lit arena. The exasperated source of light can assume this newsstand is operating during late night through early morning.
This photograph following the theme of the exhibition highlights the working class in NYC who dedicate themselves to all hours of the day to their occupation in ceaseless conditions. Its medium of vintage gelatin silver print, the most common for black and white photography of the early 1900’s, resulted in the strong tonalities and rich hues in the photograph. This scene either showing their newsstand set up in early morning or late night, with so many unsold newspapers, it appears as both workers are stationed in the newsstand until all their copies are sold. Newspapers are the only visible product of sale. The arrangement of the papers and how the older woman sits bundled up with an anxious expression, I would presume that they have been working all day and it is now around late evening through midnight. Time is of great importance to them, as outdated copies will go to waste and be undesirable the next day.
Newsstand from Weiner’s solo exhibition “Vintage New York, 1940- 1959,” stands alongside variant scenes of city life specific to its time period. As a NYC native, Weiner provides an inside glance into the glamour and sacrifices of everyday people. Using his photography to highlight the social and economic conditions in hopes of progressive action, I believe Newsstand acts as a visual assessment to the urgency but preserving people most attributed to this past history. Newsstand presents a moment of wakefulness, in which time has become a significant subject and caricature within Weiner’s work.
On View at Steven Kasher Gallery until July 28