At Your Door: The Doormen of New York City by Alina Gozin’a
AT YOUR DOOR: The Doormen of New York City captures a quintessential aspect of New York and in particular, the world-famous doorman culture. It also reflects photographer Alina Gozin’a’s lifelong interest in telling the stories of people without a voice. The city’s doormen are the gatekeepers to Manhattan’s elite. Doormen typically know the most personal details and well-guarded secrets of their tenants. Yet rarely are they really seen or their own stories shared.
The exhibition features 13 large-scale El-Greco-inspired portraits of 13 doormen – all immigrants from Eastern Europe, looking poised and regal. The artist has added a 19th-century cravat to each of the doormen’s uniforms. The cravat is a nod to the men’s European heritage and also portrays them as men of nobility – not just servicemen to New York’s elite.
Gozin’a has captured the men first in their doormen uniform, and then wearing their civilian clothes. This juxtaposition creates an intricate reveal to prompt the viewer to ask which one reflects their ‘truer’ self. The intent of the image is to peel off the facade of these anonymous men in uniform, and reveal them as who they really are. Real men with real stories and personalities. The series also raises questions around the necessity of this role. Is it an old-world profession steeped in charm and tradition or the outdated whims of the powerful and privileged?
The artist has long been interested in capturing the extremes of society; those either bathing in the sunlight of success or the invisible people in the shadows. This documentary project captures these everyday men with the same painterly style and studio lighting she usually reserves for film stars and politicians. In this regard, her work can be compared with iconic photographers of our time such as Richard Avedon whose famed documentary work also captured both extremes of society.