Proudly Made in New York City

Black & White photography – Baryta Fine Art Paper – Size: 32 cm x 32 cm – Limited Edition.

Life after 9/11 attacks brought countless little things that reminded us on a daily basis of what had just happened.

At that particular time, everything had changed, and being a New Yorker took on a whole new meaning. In addition to the overwhelming sense of inertia, even small details, like a disposable plastic bag, reflected the prevailing state of mind among the majority of people.

I remember going grocery shopping in my neighborhood’s corner store a few days after the attack. Once back home, I was contemplating the message written on the shopping bag. In the current emotional state, I couldn’t bring myself to treat it like any other throwaway item. Soon after, I framed it.

Years later, I took a picture of it within its frame, compressed by the glass. I could feel the writing on the bag was slowly fading away, so I captured it in black and white to enhance its graphic nature. I wanted to preserve it just as it was. The print is enlarged to show the bag in its actual size, creating a highly realistic representation of the original.

©Emmanuel Gimeno – Artwork insight, 2020

The “Proudly Made in New York City” photograph could be characterized as a hyper-realistic artwork. This is not a photograph of an object. In fact, we witness the image of an object that transcends its material existence to become a symbol of a historical event, infused with the emotional weight of its time.

The disposable plastic bag, which in ordinary times would be nothing more than a mundane and easily discarded item, has become a relic of the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The bag bears a message that speaks to everyone of us, a message that is now fading away and disappearing into the past.

The artist’s decision to frame the bag and preserve it serves to elevate its status, to transform it into an object of contemplation and reflection. Through the lens of the camera, the bag is transformed yet again, captured in black and white to enhance its graphic nature and to provide a highly realistic representation of the original. The print is enlarged to show the bag in its actual size, inviting the viewer to engage with its details and to immerse themselves in the history that it represents.

Each single print is a testament to the artist’s commitment to the preservation of this object as a work of art. Its size adds to the sense of intimacy and personal connection that the artist seeks to evoke in the viewer. Through the photograph, we are invited to bear witness to a moment in time, to engage with the emotions and experiences that defined a generation.

In its simplicity and understated elegance, this image is a powerful reminder of the ways in which everyday objects can become imbued with meaning and significance. It invites us to contemplate the ways in which our material culture shapes our experiences, and to consider the ways in which we can use art to preserve and honor the memories that define us. The artist has given us a window into a world that is both familiar and distant, a world that we may never fully understand but that we are nevertheless called to remember.

© 2021 – Saatchi Art Gallery.