Harvey Stein, Then and There Mardi Gras 1979

October 18 - November 11, 2023

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

            -Bob Dylan

 

In Then and There, I document an aspect of public street behavior at the 1979 New Orleans Mardi Gras. Shooting with an instant SX-70 Polaroid camera, the process allowed me to directly interact with my subjects who perform, observe, and even share in the photographic process.  The portraits are made just feet away from each person, mostly at dusk, and who are sharply revealed by the light of the camera's flash bar.  The subjects creatively present themselves in diverse colorful masks, makeup, and revelry. Each portrait is a glimpse into a layered and hidden personal identity made possible by the collaborative choices of the photographer and the subject acting in front of the camera. The raw excitement of Mardi Gras flows through each portrait with the people physically filling the entire frame of the Polaroid as if the print itself were a stage just for them. Mardi Gras allows both the subject and myself the freedom to observe a conversion into another reality of being.  As I see it, the major themes of the work, whether subtle or overt, are: mask, Carnaval, past time, memory, identity, creativity, fun and abandon, reverie, costume, altered realities, personal freedom and transformation.

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