Bowery High Lights

Bowery High Lights

Artist: Martha Rosler

Bowery High Lights, 2008
Digital photographs
Courtesy the artist

In Bowery High Lights, Martha Rosler revisits the same thoroughfare documented and elegized in her well-known 1974-5 work The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems. The earlier work, part of the first Museum as Hub exhibition in December 2007, offers a poetic, humorous, and sympathetic interrogation of the Bowery as home to the city’s homeless and destitute. In this series of black-and-white photographs and text, Rosler concentrates on the evidence of an absence: empty liquor bottles and assorted detritus that suggest alcohol-infused vagrancy and mark the passage of time. Rosler’s continued engagement with the neighborhood over the past three decades culminates in Bowery High Lights, a photographic record of its current incarnation that recalls the way this street both reflects and rejects the city’s own changes. Using color photography in slide-show format, Rosler depicts a neighborhood touched by growing affluence, but still rooted in businesses and buildings of the past, where the urban landscape she photographed in 1970s still resonates.