After Sandy

Through the eyes of photographer Marco Anelli and the words of architect Martina Barcelloni, Manhattan looks dark and bleak in this survey of the dystopian reality that invaded the city last 29 October.

New York, decadent capital of the greatest 20th-century empire, is currently telling a tale that seems more bound to the future than to the recent past. In perfect sci-fi fashion, 60 centimetres of water are able to transform one of the world's best-known urban settings into an extremely unfamiliar and bitter environment, teaching its proud dwellers what is, at the very least, an extremely inconvenient and painful lesson. A few hours after Sandy raged through the region, the City of New York allowed residents of Manhattan a quick return to their customary frenzy, hurriedly burying long hours of uncertainty and focusing once again on more frivolous issues, all on one condition — that daily routine is lived north of 30th street. From this point, Manhattan becomes two cities.

The line could not be clearer as from one sidewalk to the next lights die out with no exception. The new city seems to live in slow motion and under revised laws.

Water stored on the rooftops of the large city blocks gradually runs out, creating a new, clear-cut distinction that discriminates, this time, along a vertical line and inside the guarded privacy of homes. In the space of a few hours, the apartments located over the fifth floor, most often small luxury enclaves, are left completely without water and are, ironically, the first to become inhospitable and, to some extent, extremely brutal. At those heights, those who remain stand apart from those who leave, unconsciously establishing a new mixité ; a third, high and increasingly depopulated city is founded.
Marco Anelli, images from the <em>New York, 29 October 2012: Sandy</em> series
Marco Anelli, images from the New York, 29 October 2012: Sandy series
Not even those who inhabit the street can avoid sudden semantic shifts, which assign the urban space unpredictable and often contradictory meanings. If out of curiosity they choose to venture through the unlit blocks, they soon will be served a highly personal dystopian scenario, in which even mobile phones become superfluous, decorative objects.

While big businesses such as supermarkets and restaurants are forced to stay shut, discarding unimaginable quantities of food and drinks, small shops and street vendors take their well-earned revenge nimbly gaining the favour of entire communities.

For those who decide to return to the first city at nightfall, walking is the only alternative. Cabdrivers rarely stop fearing aggressions encouraged by the prolonged technological silence and discouraged by the prospect of becoming at the mercy of an empty tank. In a few hours, gas has also become an extremely scarce good.

In the dark, even safety is for but a few. Privation of food and destitution of control opens doors to an increasingly wild behaviour, in an unrevealed omen of a near future. Martina Barcelloni
Marco Anelli, image from the <em>New York, 29 October 2012: Sandy</em> series
Marco Anelli, image from the New York, 29 October 2012: Sandy series
Marco Anelli was born in Rome in 1968. After specializing in black and white photography and its printing techniques in Paris, he developed what has become a signature aspect of his work: photographic projects that evolve over long periods of time, through an extended engagement with his subject. His publications include works on sculpture and architecture (Shadow and Light in St. Peter's , Silvana Publisher 1999; All'Ombra del Duomo , Contrasto 2010) sport (Il Calcio , Motta Publisher 2002; Pallacorda , Skira 2004) and classical music (La Musica Immaginata , Motta Publisher 2004; The Gestures of the Spirit , Peliti Publisher 2011).
In 2010 he took portraits of 1545 participants in Marina Abramovic's performance at the MoMA in New York (Portraits in the presence of Marina Abramovic , Damiani Publisher 2010). He is currently working on two long term projects in New York, one exploring the artist's studio, and the other focusing on the emotional reactions of the public in soccer, football and baseball stadiums. He lives and works in New York.
Not even those who inhabit the street can avoid sudden semantic shifts, which assign the urban space unpredictable and often contradictory meanings. If out of curiosity they choose to venture through the unlit blocks, they soon will be served a highly personal dystopian scenario

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