On the streets of New York, Joseph Cela captures unique moments, creating modern portraits of everyday American life. “I try to express the variety of what the street offers in my photography – art, people, oddities, the good, the bad,” Cela says. Putting this variety on display in his work, he shows pedestrians passing in front of street art and giant advertisements.
We do not merely marvel at the powerful contrasts of everyday life, but also at the ubiquitous aesthetic of advertising. The figures blend into the artificially created world of the ads, which has always inexplicably fascinated viewers. Cela frames the silhouettes artfully in their surroundings, oversized bodies and faces looming as backdrops while also forming a connection with the living subjects.
As in classic New York street photography, the people in Joseph Cela’s work appear by coincidence while moving about in their familiar surroundings. Unlike classic street photography, the landscape of the city has changed. In New York City, billboard advertising is more overpowering than anywhere else. This is not only due to the size of the ads, but also their extravagant aesthetic. It almost makes pedestrians seem like spectators in their own city.
What makes Cela’s artworks so captivating is not just their perfect composition, but also the fact that they form the beginning of a gripping story taking place somewhere on the streets of New York. We sink into the encouraging and also revealing moments Joseph Cela preserved for all eternity in his favorite city.
Joseph Cela was born in New York and is of Puerto Rican heritage. A self-taught photographer, he has shown his work during the opening week of Rencontres Arles 2018, the biggest photo festival in Europe. Additionally, his work featured in the solo exhibition “As Eye See It” at One Art Space in Manhattan. Cela lives and works in New York.