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CLAYTON PATTERSON'S CAPTURED
By REMY CHEVALIER, Connecticut
in: Yahoo!Groups, Rally To End Secrecy, on March 9, 2009
Since 1979 Clayton Patterson has dedicated his life to documenting the final era of raw creativity and lawlessness in New York City's Lower East Side, a neighborhood famed for art, music and revolutionary minds. Traversing the outside edge he's recorded a dark and colorful society, from drag to hardcore, heroin, homelessness, political chaos and ultimately gentrification. His odyssey from voyeur to provocateur reveals that it can take losing everything you love to find your own significance. The amazing story of Clayton Patterson, prolific photo documentarian of the turbulent Lower East Side for 30 years.
20 years before there was YouTube, and Macaca, Critical Mass arrest videos, and the RNC, Clayton Patterson was capturing video that exposed the struggle between community activists and the often abusive NYPD. He dedicated his life to documenting the final era of raw creativity and lawlessness in New York City's Lower East Side, a neighborhood famed for art, music and revolutionary minds. Traversing the outside edge, he's recorded this dark and colorful society--from drag and hardcore, heroin, homelessness, to political chaos and, ultimately, gentrification.
In the LES of the late 70's and early 80's, it seemed that it was impossible to take a boring photograph. Realizing this, Patterson vowed to himself not to miss a moment, and he was a ubiquitous presence on the streets, in bars, and at parties, shooting literally hundreds of thousands of photographs and countless videos that captured the essence of the era in what might have been the most thrilling neighborhood on earth. For native New Yorkers, looking at his documents is like staring through a window to our own past, and the drugs, piercings, mohawks, kangols and graffiti on display are, in this context, not kitschy and nostalgic. Rather, they express the rich diversity of many little communities living together in a troubled little niche of the city, long ago changed beyond recognition.
Those who have lived in New York since the 70's remember when the Lower East Side was not merely an edgy, popular neighborhood with a bustling night life. Back then, it was a cauldron in which avant-garde music and art were stirred together with punk rock and the nascent hip hop culture; and it was also a dirty, crumbling, and often quite dangerous place to live. When Patterson began, he was not anticipating that this dingy neighborhood populated by lower class Puerto Ricans, Jewish immigrants, radical squatters, and decadent hipsters would someday become a desirable location to live and the locus of the city's never-ending cycle of gentrification. He just thought the place was wild, unpredictable, and undeniably beautiful in a gloriously ugly sort of way.
But even for long-time residents who can recall those days, the videos of the Tompkins Square Riots captured by Patterson in 1988 are a bracing reminder that, just 20 years ago, the battle between New York's poorer residents and our professional-class gentrifiers was not fought in the newspapers and the city council. Back then, this fight was fought in the streets.
There couldn't be a more perfect setting for the world premiere of this enrapturing documentary than amidst the stunning graffiti murals of Open Road Rooftop. Located atop a public high school in the heart of the Lower East Side, Open Road is one of the few remaining links to the radical urban culture of 80's that shaped the life and art of Clayton Patterson. His odyssey from voyeur to political provocateur reveals that it can take losing everything you love to find your own significance.
Ben Solomon was born and raised in downtown Manhattan. A child of the Eighties with a poet father and photographer mother, he grew up surrounded and inspired by the arts and the streets of New York City.
Dan Levin comes from a family tradition of filmmakers. Also born and raised in New York City, he is a 3rd generation director on his father's side.
In 2001, while still seniors in high school Solomon and Levin collaborated on their first film LA CIUDAD DEL HIP HOP. The short documentary was shot entirely on location in Havana, Cuba, and explores the lives of the communist nation's struggling and pioneering Hip Hop artists. After graduating from Emerson College in 2005 with BA's in film, they formedâ€¨ BENvsDAN Productions and immediately began working on CAPTURED.
In 2006 the duo also created BORN TO THE PURPLE, a DVD release about Harlem rap group Purple City, distributed internationally by Koch records.
Son of the late avant-garde composer, music theorist and entrepreneur Jeffrey Furst, Jenner was raised a nomad and spent his early life submerged in a theater of the bizarre and esoteric. Inspired by a myriad of strange and colorful characters, he began making films in his early teens. In 2006 he graduated from Hampshire College with a BA in Film and Critical Theory.
Over the last 25 years, Marc Levin has created his own original vision in his independent films, episodic television and documentaries.
His dramatic feature film, SLAM, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and the Camera D'Or at Cannes in 1998, received international recognition for its seamless blending of the real world with a narrative flow.