George Stein’s Micro Gallery show Specter is a journey through 2020 from the perspective of a New Yorker watching the transitions of his city from the street. This is a personal journey for Stein who writes of his haunting images, ‘These are bright spots against a strangely distorted sense of time and isolation.’
I LIVE IN NORTHERN NEW JERSEY and worked in New York City before the COVID lockdown. I used to take my camera into the city to wander around and shoot photos. The silhouette photos, Specter, two workers in front of the illuminated American flag, and The Sipper, the coffee-sipper in front of the John Oliver HBO poster, were shot in Times Square early in the morning.
I like them because they both capture two worlds overlaid upon each-other into one. Silhouettes also emphasize the shape or form over any other element of the subject. Less is more in this sense. These were taken at the very beginning of 2020.
The photo of Anna Sophia, where she is photographed with her scarf over her head in front of a carousel, was taken at Coney Island on the morning of a fresh snowfall in January of 2020.
Iconic, the street shot with pedestrians and fog, was taken in New York one day in late February. This was just one or two weeks before the city locked down. Over the summer, it seemed like a lost world when I looked at these shots again.
WTC is a commuting shot of the World Trade Center train leaving Hoboken Station. I am attracted to the way people lose themselves in thought in these moments.
Co-Exist is a shot of a neighborhood church in the rain, the red streak is created through an extended, open shutter while the tail light of a car passed in front. The title comes from the symbolism inherent in the primary colors, white and red, implying the dialectic existence of good and evil. This was a COVID-era shot, wandering locally, alone, looking at the world in a new way.
I do some photographic work with a NYC Dominatrix, Queen Layla, and this torso shot of her and her friend, Momma Francine, was taken in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, a place of great historical, social, and musical significance. The location was chosen for its visual elements, as an interesting backdrop to the two models’ elements. I am attracted to the narrative ambiguity of the shot, as it asks the viewer to theorize context.
ATM TATTOO was taken near the Christopher Street Path Station. I am attracted to neon, what can I say? These last two shots were taken in August, when the epidemic was under control in New York City and the election was the primary focus.
For me, these photos are something of a personal journey through a very strange year. These are bright spots against a strangely distorted sense of time and isolation. I continue to take things day by day, happy to still be here, looking forward to an eventual return to some version of normality. Someday.
George L Stein is a photographer living and working in the Northern New Jersey/NYC area and focused on art, street, architecture, urban decay, and surreal subject matter. He has been previously published in a number of literary magazines such as Prometheus Dreaming, NUNUM, the Toho Journal, and After Hours. His work is currently in group shows at the bG gallery in Santa Monica and Las Lagunas Gallery in Laguna Beach, California.