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This Is Not a Fashion Photograph. Bill Hayes

At the start of his new guide, How We Live Now, the New York-based author and photographer Bill Hayes makes an extended checklist of issues he desires to recollect – peculiar issues that now appear forbidden, if not inconceivable. “The last time I shook hands with a stranger. The last time I went to the gym. …went swimming. …took the subway. …took a plane. …went to a movie. …kissed someone. …slept with someone. …shared a joint. …went to a restaurant. …shared an elevator without worrying. …wasn’t scared. …was as scared as this.” For anybody who’s lived by way of this terrifying, clarifying interval, it’s a well-known checklist. As he did with Insomniac City, his earlier memoir with pictures, Hayes has a manner of opening up the particularity of his expertise to incorporate us all. 

He started How We Live Now, subtitled Scenes From the Pandemic and obtainable from Bloomsbury in August, when New York went into isolation in mid March. He capped it off with a postscript some 100 days later, when town, on the point of a really gradual reopening, was galvanized – and practically paralyzed – by demonstrations towards police violence. 

“A Kiss at the Farmer’s Market”, April 11, 2020, {photograph} by Bill Hayes, from “How We Live Now” (Bloomsbury).

© Bill Hayes 

Whether he’s utilizing a laptop computer or a digital camera, Hayes is a eager observer, alert to the ache, resilience, and wit of New York and New Yorkers. His guide is basically anecdotal – half memoir, half journal – threaded with bulletins monitoring a budding romance and impressed by one thing his late accomplice, writer/neurologist Oliver Sacks, mentioned shortly earlier than he died in 2015: “The most we can do is write – intelligently, creatively, critically, evocatively – about what it is like living in the world at this time.” Hayes does simply that whereas conserving it vividly, touchingly private. He consists of his to-do lists and his train routine (earlier than noting that it was all however deserted) in addition to a sobering, day-to-day tally of the variety of COVID-19 deaths within the U.S

What he calls, early on, “a disruption in the universe” is manifest in methods giant and small however largely at avenue degree, the place Hayes continues to {photograph} and contact base with neighborhood store keepers, a few of whom had shut calls with the virus. Although pictures of abandoned streets and empty subway automobiles are acquainted by now, his footage of individuals are the emotional coronary heart of the guide. Images made earlier than the pandemic remind us how casually we as soon as frolicked and clung collectively. But tenderness stays. The couple right here, glimpsed at a neighborhood farmer’s market in April, their masks lowered for a kiss, are proof that, at the same time as town turned inward, love by no means shut down.

Vince Aletti is a images critic and curator. He has been dwelling and dealing in New York since 1967. A contributor to “Aperture”, “Artforum”, “Apartamento” and “Photograph”, he co-wrote “Avedon Fashion 1944-2000”, printed by Harry N. Abrams in 2009, and is the writer of  “Issues: A History of Photography in Fashion Magazines”, printed by Phaidon in 2019.

Vogue Italia, n. 839, July/August 2020

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