American, born 1951
Head #6, 2001
Fujicolor Crystal Archive print, edition of 10
48 x 60 inches (121.9 x 152.4 cm)
Sarah Norton Goodyear Fund, 2001
Philip-Lorca diCorcia does not know the names of the people who appear in his "Heads" series, and they were not usually aware that their photograph was taken. DiCorcia marked an X on the pavement and on lampposts or other poles hung a special kind of spotlight that blacks out almost all surrounding detail. Connected to the light by a remote, he waited at a distance of about twenty-five feet with a long lens. When someone stepped on the X, he took the picture. People who appear in the same photograph were not necessarily companions on the street—for example here the white businessman stepped on the X, while the young African American was walking close enough to be partially lit as well.
The diversity of the people in the "Heads" series reflects the variety of New York City's inhabitants. But what they all have in common are the expressions—thoughtful and closed in on themselves, perhaps trying to maintain psychological space in a place where they have no physical space. As the artist said, "the street does not induce people to shed their self-awareness. They seem to withdraw into themselves. They become less aware of their surroundings, seemingly lost within themselves. Their image is the outward facing front belied by the inward-gazing eyes."
Related Lesson Plan
What’s Fair? Can You Decide? (For Grades 3–12)
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