Brigitte Grignet

New York-This is not America
Location: Liege, Belgium
Nationality: Belgian/American
Biography: Brigitte Grignet is a Belgian photographer focusing in a more personal type of documentary photography. She studied photography at the International Center of Photography in New York, where she lived for 15 years. She worked with Mary Ellen Mark... read on
Public Story
New York-This is not America
Copyright brigitte grignet 2021
Date of Work 01/01/08 - 07/01/11
Updated 11/19/20

I said: “New York is not America”.

He laughed sarcastically. I hung up. No point.

Great timing for breaking up, I thought, today I just turned 40.

The floor was shaking with my neighbor’s Caribbean music and I could hear some shuffling noise in the linen’s drawers. Mice again. Damned.

Better to take the F train and head to the beach. Lunapark was still open. A couple of wooden horses were staring at me blankly. Three tattooed men were fishing, and Russian women were sporting fluorescent bright red lipstick and skin that had seen many intense summers. The sidewalk smelled like hot dogs. A man was feeding an army of seagulls, he started to yell at me.  While a cop was chasing a group of people carrying brown paper bags, a man with a hat made of plastic flowers was dancing salsa. Some chubby women were proudly exhibiting tiny bikinis.

Far away from the images of Disneyland, Botox or the war in Iraq, the city was making me feel alive again. Forget about morning commuters, trying to squeeze in, about the crowds rushing on sidewalks, anxious not to touch anyone. Walking down the streets I was hit by fragments of life that had the freedom to exist. 

The stories we see appearing in front of us are not a simple narration of what we witness, but also what we create. Every day we live in our own world, our bubble. Some places hand us a mirror of our own chimeras and mirages. One day I landed in Brooklyn with a bag and a wrong address, and New York became my own movie, a place that gives me the emotional space I need.

A lady in Chanel sunglasses is buying groceries and carrying her Chihuahua in a sling, and a cowboy is playing guitar naked in Times Square. A pretty girl is reading her book in the subway and laughing. It is not easy to really see what is around us. But it is there -all of it- : life, love, death.


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