The Millions

Martha Cooper: A Reluctant Icon

1.
This year’s Tribeca Film Festival featured a new category called “This Used to Be New York.” One of the category’s three entries was the Australian filmmaker Selina Miles’s debut feature-length documentary, Martha: A Picture Story, about the renowned street photographer Martha Cooper. As I settled into the screening room, I was feeling anticipation tinged with dread. The anticipation came from my unquenchable hunger to time-travel back to the bunged-up, brawling, beautiful New York City of my youth; the dread came from my fear that this movie was going to be another work of misty-eyed nostalgia. The category title “This Used to Be New York” was the first red flag, and the description of the movie in the festival catalog was the clincher. It read:

Selina Miles’ film is a portrait of photographer Martha Cooper, who, with inimitable energy and a sharp eye, recorded images of New York City in the 1970s and 1980s—eras when the city’s vibrancy was deemed dangerous. Cooper’s images of graffiti

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Millions

The Millions2 min read
The Millions Top Ten: September 2019
Meteoric rises for J. Robert Lennon and Yoko Ogawa propelled Pieces for the Left Hand and The Memory Police into the upper-half of this month’s countdown. The post The Millions Top Ten: September 2019 appeared first on The Millions.
The Millions8 min read
Tuesday New Release Day: Starring Strout, Percy, Vapnyar, Hodgman, O’Brien, and More
In John Hodgman's delightfully absurd latest, the author casts himself as a used-to-be-somewhat-famous person trying to figure out his place in the world. The post Tuesday New Release Day: Starring Strout, Percy, Vapnyar, Hodgman, O’Brien, and More a
The Millions1 min read
Everything Here Is a Test: Featured Poetry by Paige Lewis
Our series of excerpts continues with a piece from Lewis’s Space Struck, a deft, entertaining debut from a poet of surprise. The post Everything Here Is a Test: Featured Poetry by Paige Lewis appeared first on The Millions.