Women with Signs, ongoing

In the 80s, there were hoards of mentally ill homeless people on the streets in New York City. On one occasion, I watched from across the street in horror as a filthy and dishevelled homeless woman, naked from the waist up, gyrated in front of a floor to ceiling window outside of the Panda Club, a Chinese restaurant on the Upper East Side. Her very existence could not have been more antithetical to the life styles and pursuits of the patrons inside that eating establishment. Occasionally someone seated by the window would glance up and then quickly look back down at their plate. She was akin to the gory part of a movie; where the prudish and squeamish avert their eyes.

Because of the violence perpetrated against women in our society, the lives of homeless women on the street seem even more precarious than those of the men. I noticed over the past few years, especially since 2008, a resurgence of women in the streets after a period of time in which there was a real decline in the visibility of the homelessness in the city, although this was in part due to the fact that Giuliani would round up the homeless and bus them upstate against their wishes and dump them there.

The first image was shot on May 15th, 2008. They now span over a decade. In each case, I have gotten permission for the photograph and offered $5 in exchange. I explain where the image will go and how I will use it and I promise their face will not be shown. I always show them the image I have taken. On occasion, long conversations ensue. I am surprised at how many women say they are pregnant. Sometimes I encounter someone I have met before, sitting on a different block, months or years later.