Arlene Gottfried — Bacalaitos & Fireworks



Arlene Gottfried
Bacalaitos & Fireworks

Past: January 20 → February 25, 2017

From my window on New York City’s Lower East Side, I could look out and see the Puerto Rican culture I encountered over 30 years earlier, around the same time I began photographing. One night I heard a street vendor on the corner of Avenue C and East 3rd Street calling « bacalaitos and fireworks », bacalaitos, a fried cod fish indigenous to Puerto Rico, and fireworks, for the Fourth of July weekend. This juxtaposition became etched in my mind — representative of an immigrant population on the streets of America.

The wave of Puerto Rican immigration to America began in the 1950s, with individuals seeking the promise of a better life. The incoming families moved into many different urban areas including the Brooklyn neighborhood where I grew up. I took to the streets with my friends and neighbors, where I learned to dance salsa and speak some Spanish, and when I picked up a camera, my friends in the neighborhood became my subjects.

My involvement with the Latino Community has intensified over the years and continues to be very personally important. The work collected here stands as witness to the negative effects of poverty, revealing the pain and alienation, neglect, unexpected pregnancy, single motherhood, drug addiction, crime, incarceration, and the extremely high mortality rate among young people affecting the Puerto Rican community in New York City.

However, this work also shows the spirit of a people with a powerful passion for life.

Those who survive the ghetto rely on a vibrant and intimate community to help overcome the obstacles and the struggles of everyday living.

Arlene Gottfried
10 Paris 10 Zoom in 10 Paris 10 Zoom out

5, rue Legouvé

75010 Paris

T. 01 78 94 03 00

Official website

Château d'Eau
Jacques Bonsergent

Opening hours

Wednesday – Saturday, 2 PM – 7 PM
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The artist

  • Arlene Gottfried