EAST VILLAGE — An exhibit showing a firefighter's photographs of 9/11, which were partially destroyed by flooding from Hurricane Sandy, is currently being projected on an East Village wall to commemorate the storm's anniversary.
“Residual Images,” which features water-damaged photographs of 9/11 taken by FDNY firefighter Mike Redpath, debuted Thursday night. The photos are shown nightly from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on an exterior wall at First Street Green, located at 33 East 1st Street.
Redpath, who has a BFA in graphic arts, took the photos while working near Ground Zero in the months after the attacks. He stored the negatives in the basement of his Rockaway home for more than a decade, until Hurricane Sandy caused his house to flood, transforming his photo collection. The images now simultaneously depict the devastation of both events.
"These two events acted as defining moments. It's important to have this be in the public view," said Cay Sophie Rabinowitz, the founder of OSMOS, an art publishing program and project space that helped produce the exhibition. "It allows people to return. It allows people to have their own individual kinds of reflection," she said.
The negatives of the photos were discovered by volunteers working in the Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy, and were later scanned into a computer to produce the images that are now on display. The photos show firefighters covered in ash and volunteers attempting to help with the clean-up and rescue efforts, as well as cranes and debris at Ground Zero.
"I see these images, and the susceptibility and survival of these materials, as this great symbol of being human," Rabinowitz said.
Because the images are distorted and discolored due to their exposure to storm water, they also take on an abstract, dream-like quality.
"They describe and they display something from those events, but they also have a beautiful sort of subtle artistic value," said Rabinowitz, adding that she hesitated to think of the damage to the photos as wholly negative.
"I won't call it decay because it's also development in some way. There’s an evolution of the material," she said.
The photos are curated by Niko Koppel, metropolitan photo editor for The New York Times. Over 100 images will be projected nightly on two adjacent screens until the exhibition's finale on Tuesday, after which photographer Michael Redpath will be present for questions and a reception.
The show is free and open to the public.