Photographs from Staten Island by Christine Osinski
These photographs were taken during 1983 and 1984 in Staten Island, New York, commonly referred to as “the forgotten borough”. Staten Island then felt like a remote place with a working class sensibility. I understood it at once, having grown up in a blue collar neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. During my explorations, I walked across the borough as an itinerant photographer, carrying a 4x5 camera and later a twin lens reflex camera. Everywhere I looked there was the potential to make an interesting picture. Each time I started out, I never knew what I would find and it always felt like an adventure. In doing this work, it became apparent to me that I understand the familiar as being very exotic. I appreciate the oddness in the ordinary.
My method of working as a photographer has always involved not drawing attention to myself---to articulate my subject as well as I could but to leave myself and my opinions out of the picture. This may seen like a contradiction because in doing this work on Staten Island, I walked around carrying a large camera which drew people’s interest. The camera became a transitional object between my subjects and myself---a conversation piece---a way to negotiate picture taking. Strangers seemed willing to have their pictures taken by me using this large camera. Maybe taking pictures is an opportunity to challenge assumptions and to ask viewers to take another look.
(All images were taken in 1983 and 1984)
Christine Osinski is a New York City based photographer.