Viewfinder: A Time Capsule in Photos

Viewfinder: A Time Capsule in Photos

A new year is still getting started, but on the streets of the Seaport District, an exhibition of striking images from the unforgettable year gone by invite us to pause and reflect. Viewfinder at Night Gallery — found at 19 Fulton Street — does not document the unrelenting headlines of 2020; rather the images are “time capsules of moments captured along the way.” Viewed together, the work, curated by Dylan Warmack and presented in partnership with Manual Photo, celebrates individualism and demonstrates resilience.

“We put together the show to showcase and celebrate artists we respect,” says Warmack. “Especially in a year when most creatives had to take a step back, we wanted to highlight the creativity that can still happen, even in isolation.”

The exhibition brings together 20 artists, mostly from New York and L.A., and many of them friends and collaborators of Warmack’s and Manual Photo’s Malcolm Dia. For some of the photographers, it was their first show. Others have shot editorials and ads for major brands, directed music videos and shown work at major galleries and museums. For Viewfinder, they all contributed work shot at pivotal moments in their own personal journeys of 2020.

“My photograph in this show is of Mannat and Sirat,” says New York-based photographer Elizabeth “Eli” Wirija. “I wanted to display their powerful bond through this image.”

Queens artist Dean Majd created his image, Heaven’s Inferno, 2020, in the middle of quarantine, at his local park—“At the time it felt like the world was experiencing collective pain, confusion, and hopelessness,” he says. “Looking at these birds against the clouds filled me with hope.” Majd selected the piece—dedicated to one of his best friends who passed away in the fall— as a way to bring that hope to anyone who stops to observe it.

That idea of contemplation was very much on Warmack’s mind as he curated Viewfinder: “The scale of the works is so large that you kind of step inside the photos—which I think you rarely get from most photo shows, or from scrolling on Instagram.”

That said, exploring the portfolios of the Viewfinder artists on their Instagram accounts showcases the impressive breadth and quality of their work—and is highly recommended for anyone touched by their experience with the images at Night Gallery. (Find a full list of the photographers’ accounts when you scroll down on this page.)

The pairing of work by a new crop of young, emerging photographers with the historic streets of the Seaport District was a powerful draw for Manual and Warmack: “The Seaport has always played an important role in New York City, so bringing diverse artists and images to all the spaces here made sense,” says Warmack of the unique location.

The photographers were also excited about the opportunity: “It’s a wonderful experience to be surrounded and exhibited along with so many talented POC artists,” says Wirija. Majd agrees, and adds: “I was excited to be a part of a show in which each image had a particular story that didn’t necessarily center around quarantine, but offered how we can survive despite the turmoil that the world is in at the moment.”

Viewfinder is on show at Night Gallery, 19 Fulton Street, through January 31.