Last week I finally made it to Fotografiska New York. After 8 years at the original Stockholm location, the brothers who run Fotografiska decided to open up an NYC location, celebrating its grand opening in December 2019. It was a short-lived run, however, as soon thereafter they had to shutter due to covid-19. When I got an email saying they were re-opening at reduced capacity with new health and safety measures in place, I knew I had to go!
At the time I was working on writing my bio for a photography contest (if you’re creative I’m sure you can relate to that painful process), and really needed some inspiration. I decided to finally get up and get out to Fotografiska where I planned to pay special attention to the artists bios and other writings which accompanied the images. And of course, photographic inspiration is something I’m always looking for anyway, and museums are a great way to find just that–as I wrote about here.
Fotografiska is not technically a museum–since it has no permanent collection and is for-profit. And while the experience is definitely like that of going to a museum, you can tell there’s something different about this place. Everything about it exudes “cool” from the items they carry in the gift shop, to the works they show, and to the building itself! It’s housed in a national historic landmark building, whose Renaissance Revival–style exterior is a sight to be seen. Inside the stairwells and elevators all feature wall-sized photographs that remind you that you’re in a place where contemporary photography is what it’s all about. Perfect for what I was looking for!
Housed inside were 6 exhibits across 4 floors. The top floor featured a small exhibit of protest photography, but was primarily a bar/cafe space, which looked like it must have been really swingin’ before covid-19. However, devoid of people (besides me) and with an empty bar setup, it felt more like an attic of an old European estate, which is cool in its own right.
The next floor down featured an exhibition of video portraits of death row exonerees, with speakers playing audio interviews of the exonerees telling their stories. It was very moving, unsettling, and powerful. Its power was somewhat diluted by the physical experience of it, however. The screens were pretty close to each other, so while you couldn't see 2 at the same time it was hard to focus on one story without being distracted by the sound coming from the one next to it. Also it was so dark that walking from one screen to the next, sometimes having to take turns, felt very treacherous. I would’ve taken out my cell phone flashlight if there weren’t other people on the floor with me.
The remaining 4 exhibits shared the remaining 2 floors. One in particular, a collaboration with VICE, was definitely in keeping with Fotografiska’s ultra-cool vibes. It featured works from quite a few young or up-and-coming photographers from all over the world and right here in NYC, which is something I really appreciated. Reading these folks’ bios helped me come to a revelation: most bios aren’t great, so stop sweating so much about yours! Haha
Overall all of the works hung at Fotografiska were awesome and inspiring, it’s 100% worth a visit. Right now tickets are only $24, and you do need to reserve a specific time for admittance. You can do so here.
To get there take the 6 train to 23rd St and take the Northeast exit, you’ll find Fotografiska right at the top of the stairs!