Museums and private collections (sélection)
The Whitney Museum of American Art
The Jewish Museum
The Studio Museum of Harlem
The Getty Museum, Los Angeles
The Hood Museum, Dartmouth, NH
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Tx
The Changing Face of Harlem:
For the better part of a year, photographer Alice Attie set out to document a Harlem in transition. In a remarkable photo essay, she captures the grace and spirit of this historic urban community.
When Alice Attie began photographing these legendary streets, she hoped to document the passing of an era, the changing landscape of old Harlem giving way to the new. But after months spent among the people who call this varied and vibrant community their home, another richer and more complex story began to emerge.
"I rode my bicycle into Harlem every day for a year," says Attie, who lives a short walk away from the heart of this historic neighborhood. "Talking to the people I photographed, I kept hearing similar phrases over and over: 'It was better for us when everybody was afraid to come up here.' "That feeling drastically changed a few years back when the mega-retailers—Disney, Starbucks, Blockbuster—took notice and began moving there in search of untapped dollars.
"This gives new meaning to integration," Attie explains, a word that has become one more euphemism for white conglomerates taking over buildings and land where black-owned shops and mom-and-pop restaurants once flourished. "One sad thing I learned," says Attie, "is that the people of Harlem own only 3% of the property." The other 97% is now selling briskly, at inflated prices most of its population can never hope to afford. "It's hard to see a community so viable and self-sufficient, and to see that self-sufficiency splintering."
Photographing the expressive faces of its residents against backdrops of peeling plaster and the garish, fresh paint of the new, Attie has fashioned an affectionate portrait of a community and a way of life in danger of extinction. But at the heart of these images is a story of resiliency and pride, and a sense of place and history the urban renewal machinery must not erase.