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LENTICULAR historieS
SOUTH STREET SEAPORT,  New York 

Water Street between Fulton Street and Beekman Street and on Front Street between Fulton Street and John Street at the Seaport from June 18-29, 2022.  

The 2022 River To River Festival utilizes art to heal and celebrate the resiliency of New Yorkers. Festival installations and exhibits are free to the public, providing opportunities for connection.

The Howard Hughes Corporation, South Street Seaport Museum,  and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) have partnered to present Lenticular Histories: South Street Seaport, an immersive installation of photo sculptures by Rose DeSiano at the Seaport as part of the 2022 River To River Festival.

An immersive installation of mirrors, historic photographs, and optical illusions that bring to the surface and celebrate the community, workers, and the histories of the South Street Seaport Historic District and the New York Harbor. Colorful images and light refracted from prisms dance in-between mirrors that reflect the idyllic cobble-stone streets, historic storefronts, and tall ships, while viewers witness their own reflection becoming part of the long illustrious narrative of the New York coastline of the South Street Seaport.

"Born into an immigrant family, granddaughter of a Sicilian fisherman, my family came to NYC becoming dockworkers and stevedores. The opportunity to create a new artwork using the photo collection of the South Street Seaport Museum has been extraordinary. Inspired by seaports' complexity and aware of it's problematic histories, my public sculpture works to both celebrate and illuminate the microcosmic that is the NYC waterfront," 

notes from the studio:

Where do these photographs come from? 

 As a starting point for her research, DeSiano worked with the collection and archives of the South Street Seaport Museum collections , focusing on inclusivity and equity in representation.Selecting historical photographs dating back to the later 1800s I worked closely with the collections at the South Street Seaport Museum, and later weaved in images from the public collections of the  Library of Congress, NYC Public Library in an effort to create a more inclusive narrative.

Photo History Highlights:

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1. 1943, Gordon Parks for FSA/OWI - Fulton fish market Stevedor Library of Congress
2. cz.1890-1915, View of South Street South Street Seaport Musuem

3. ca.1880-1895 First known photograph of the Fulton Fish Market Library of Congress

4.  New York circa 1901. "South Street and Brooklyn Bridge." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. Library of Congress

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1. 1890-1915, Thomas Kennedy Collection, Canal Boat Children on Coenties Slip South Street Seaport Musuem

2. ca 1945, Rudolph Moucha demonstrating how to clean fish at the Fulton Fish Market for women officers of the US Coast Guard.South Street Seaport Musuem

The dangerous working conditions and the known early criminal violence of the seaport established itself as predominately male space. Women in photographs of the Seaport are hard to find. Despite their distinct lack of representation of both Blacks and Women  in the photographic history of the seaport. Some of the most iconic images were taken by a Black Man and two women. FSA/OWI  photographers Gordon Parks, Bernice Abbot and more recently  Barbara Mensch.

3. 1939 May 22, National Maritime Union Striking seamen interrupt exercise. South Street Seaport Musuem

4. 1933, Fishmongers inside Fulton Fish Market, Gift off Joseph Cantalupo South Street Seaport Musuem  

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1. ca.1980 NYC Children attend a ship mast hoisting demo at the Museum.South Street Seaport Musuem

2. 1989, Tugboat Spuyten Duyvil towing Ambrose, infront of the WTC at the South Street Seaport 

3. ​1939 August 31, South Street Seaport welcomes passangers on the Washington Liner from war- scared Europe, US Costumes House Collection/ Acme News-pictures. South Street Seaport Musuem 

4. 1917 NAACP Silent Protest Parade, Fifth Avenue, New York City NY Public Libaray 

Read more about the Silent March

While this is the third installation of my “Lenticular Histories” series the South Street Seaport marks the first time I have elected to include an image that is not immediately site specific. Rather than perpetuating  the systemic bias against blacks in their roles in this NYC waterfront:

-The slave trade based out of Tontine Coffee house at 68 Wall Street later to become the NY Stock Exchange.
-Caesars Rebellion 1742, a bias corruption that was perpetuated by the courts. 
-The exclusion of blacks from the Stevedore workforce and lack of representation in early Unions.

I have included 1917 Silent March. I elected to include “The Silent March”, as photographic place holder the void and silence of blacks in recording of the Seaports History. Working towards weaving a more accurate representation of this contentious space for blacks - whose story are lost in the photographic archives. 

The history of both photography and devices of illusion are important elements of Lenticular Histories  - A monument dedicated to public space in times of chaos and leisure.

What's in the Eye-Peep Holes? The Stereoscope is a device by which two photographs of the same object taken at slightly different angles are viewed together, creating an impression of depth and 3D.  

Lenticular Maze of Photographs: Lenticular or "Tabula scalata" pictures with two images divided into strips on different sides of a corrugated carrier. Each image can be viewed correctly from a certain angle. Most tabula scalata have the images in vertical lines so the picture seems to change from one image to another while walking past it. Known as "turning pictures" dates back to the 16th century.

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supported by the photo
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A very special thank you to Martina Caruso, Director of Collections of the South Street Seaport Museum, and Michelle Kennedy, Collections and Curatorial Assistant