Street Level

Monday, December 28, 2009

New York photographer Sue Kwon talks about her 20 years of taking documentary and commercial photographs in the city. Street Level: New York Photographs 1987-2007 is the first complete monograph to survey her work. It includes pictures of the Beastie Boys, Biggie Smalls, and the Wu-Tang Clan, as well as portraits and New York street scenes.


Sue Kwon

Comments [14]

bobby l au from nyc

as a long time follower of sue kwon's work, i believe, as some of the posts from above, her connection with her subjects is due to her being a real person, which puts her subject at ease. it allows her to blend in, to capture extraordinary people doing very ordinary things.
ms kwon is an artist and her work speaks for itself. she is an extremely intelligent person with much to say. to judge her from just an interview or two is unfair.
let's see how her critics would fair if they had to do some public speaking.
don't be a hater!

Dec. 30 2009 12:26 PM
Bob from NYC

I saw the show when it was in the gallery and I thought it was impressive but I had no idea just how much more was in the book. Also, seeing actual film prints was really refreshing.

Dec. 29 2009 02:43 PM
Diem from NYC

I think it is courageous of an artist to agree to be interviewed knowingly "un-coached". Sue Kwon was both genuine and vulnerable in her interview. She was human, which is so refreshing in time lacking humanity. In a media savvy age, her nervous giggle and occasional pregnant pauses may have seemed distracting to the listener, but I appreciate the sincerity of her answers. She didn't spew the usual canned erudite "artist-speak", which not only condescends but is trite and boring to listen to...It was charming and inspirational to listen to an artist who was both humble and authentic.

Before you comment on her "lack of" interview skills, take a look at her photographs in "Street Level". It is precisely her ability to be "real", and her disarming nature that allows Sue Kwon to capture incredible and powerful "moments" with her camera. She is able to make a "human" connection with her subjects that is respectful and thoughtful, allowing them to become unguarded so that both she and her camera disappear and an "un-posed" moment is captured...a story is told...and a time passed documented. The same "un-rehearsed" nature of her interview as well as her abiity to make an "authentic" connection to her subjects, is the reason the celebrity photographs in "Street Level" result in subjects that are both "unrehearsed" and vulnerable. Isn't that truly refreshing in a time of "celebrity" where everyone is perfectly coached and branded?

Ms. Sue Kwon giggle-away nervously, your photographs speak for themselves. The only media coach you need is a 35 mm camera and a roll of black and white film.

Dec. 28 2009 09:36 PM
Shadi from New York City

There are a lot of people that can take photos and be technical but for someone to be able to make someone comfortable to get something out of the subject and get a good image is a whole different ballgame. Sue has the ability to make the most hardened subject relax and be themselves. She spent time in prison photographing the lifers and gained their trust and respect. Most men would not be able to do this. To all the fools that didnt like her giggling well get over it. Did you ever think she might be nervous? Geez buy her book and judge her work. Spend a day in her shoes and see if you could handle what she does or what she did.

Dec. 28 2009 05:46 PM
Special K. from nyc

I agree with the previous post. We are all too accustomed to hearing/seeing polished packaged artists in media. Talking the Talk is overrated. The art does the talking for the artist, it is a visual medium. It's important to mention the aspect of personality of the artist in relation to the work. The ability to approach and gain trust of subjects seems integral to this work. This artists personality enables her art form to flourish. I am enthralled to see/hear an artist who not ready for prime time. Thank you Sue Kwon for keeping it real. Love the work !

Dec. 28 2009 02:50 PM
FonMone from nyc

I don't expect Sue Kwon -or any visual artist-to be a practiced verbal commentator.Some of the comments criticizing her radio presence bring up an interesting point.Much 'celebrated' contemporary art seems too pat, accompanied by a whole media package-designed to sell. As a long time admirer of Sue's work, I'm delighted to know the book has gained an appreciative,interested audience. The book is fantastic; Go Sue..

Dec. 28 2009 02:18 PM
Connie from NJ

I like that she sounded uncoached--a real person. You could tell she took a moment to think about the question instead of giving a prepared answer.

Dec. 28 2009 01:36 PM
the truth! from BKNY

giggles to much..needs a media coach!

Dec. 28 2009 01:30 PM
FranciL from nyc

Good grief! She may be a good photog but a terrible interviewee! Sounds like a silly silly kid.

Dec. 28 2009 01:28 PM
Ozzie Alfonso from NYC


Why film and not digital? You talked about it but I didn't quite get a clear eason.

Dec. 28 2009 01:25 PM
Ro from SoHo

Please ask Ms. Kwon to restrain her giggling. It's most distracting and demeaning to her conversation.

Dec. 28 2009 01:25 PM
Jim B from W. Orange, NJ

As someone who left NYC before 9/11, I would be interested in Ms. Kwon's opinion of its impact on the city.

Dec. 28 2009 01:24 PM
Mireille Liong from brooklyn, NY

Do you need a release if you take pictures of people on street fairs as an artist?

Dec. 28 2009 01:16 PM
Jim B from W. Orange, NJ

No link to Ms. Kwon's work?

Dec. 28 2009 01:15 PM

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