Before the internet allowed the world’s slightly kinked to be able to exercise those kinks in relative home comforts, the streets of every major city had a particular darkened underbelly after a certain hour of an evening. In 1980s New York, there was nowhere seedier. Awash with deprivation, decadence, crack cocaine and cheap sex, the city heaved with smeared lipstick and unwashed genitalia.

One photographer to showcase this debauchery with a certain thetricality and guile was Miron Zownir. His work photographing the freak-laden streets showed a side of the city that most liked to keep under wraps. Instead, Zownir celebrates the morally corrupt, honours the hedonism, and salutes the salacious with every tainted black and white image taken from NYC RIP, Miron Zownir’s effortlessly brilliant book.

These images are that of society unwashed and unwanted, this is the outsiders society that lives and breathes on the subversion of societal norms. Because of this need to change, to move and to create the group often pictured here were behind a lot of social good. Using disused buildings for residential purposes, finding art in every nook and cranny and promoting tolerance wherever one could. This may be the insiders looking out, but maybe it should be the other way.  

Zownir is comfortable in this set, he mingles with them and offers their unabashed viewpoint for us all to enjoy. Where some New York City street photographer can feel jaded, contrived, or simply not giving, Zownir is desperate to lay on this feast of fervorous humanity. He’s got double helpings too.

All images Miron Zownir

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