The Municipal Art Society of New York Doris C. and Alan J. Freedman Gallery is hosting an online exhibition of some of Manhattan’s most iconic public spaces devoid of people. City without People consists of works by New York-based architectural photographer Giles Ashford, known for both his exterior and interior work, shooting directly for architects, designers, and developers. Clean, rigid treatments and attention to detail make his images instantly identifiable.
Lockdown and quarantines have created a global mental health crisis by ignoring the necessity of social interaction as a key support for all individuals. Economic and medical-epidemiological thinking has dominated. Few social and sociological proposals have been considered beyond “bubbles” whereby people choose a limited circle of friends or households team up to isolate together. Institutions, workplaces and communities have foregone physical co-presence and face-to-face gathering. As a result, social interaction appears mostly as defiance of quarantine norms and illegal gathering, leading to cycles of further suppression. One fear is that there is a risk that online interaction will be seized up as an economic opportunity to save on the cost of public space and bricks and mortar facilities for direct interaction beyond CoVid19, partly because the pandemic is not likely to have a clear end point globally but rather a slow ebbing into a new reality in which it will have a long term impact. The need for considering social logics and needs will become increasingly evident.
-Rob Shields (Univ. of Alberta)