In 1984, Tria Giovan moved to a tenement building on Clinton Street on New York City's Lower East Side. Over the next six years she wandered the streets photographing as if in a foreign land. Loisaida, as some knew it, was as gritty, authentic and humble, as it was exotic, vibrant and colorful.
The melding cultures and humanity she encountered inspired these photographs. Giovan left the neighborhood and the work behind in 1990 and the negatives languished until the pandemic. Resurrecting this series through editing, scanning, and sequencing for book form, the photographer gives a contemporary perspective to historical photographs. It is new work, alive at the intersections of her encounters, her engagement with the medium, and the viewers' observations seen through a prism of time.
This project is a body of work of approximately 80 photographs taken nearly forty years ago. 'Loisaida' is a time capsule, a cultural and historical record of the 1980s Lower East Side that was diverse, provided affordable places to live, and fostered a robust and creative community.
The images resonate, inviting curiosity and evoking nostalgia about a place in a bygone era that has been forever altered through waves of gentrification. Part preservation, part humanistic engagement, this project contributes to an historical visual legacy of the ever-evolving, always evocative Lower East Side. Sean Corcoran, senior curator, prints and photography of the Museum of the City of New York contributes an essay.