Monday, 3 September 2007
From 1977 to 1980 Martha Cooper was a staff photographer at the New York Post. Working out of her car, she drove around the city from assignment to assignment, always on the lookout for interesting feature shots. Cooper quickly found that the city’s poorer neighborhoods had the richest street life and her favorite location became Manhattan’s Alphabet City. When she did not have an assignment she would turn her attention to the children who played among the city's wastegrounds, abandone buildings and rubble-stewn streets made perfect playgrounds, providing open spaces and materials for improvised games and hideouts. Street Play shows the creative and unstoppable spirit of the city kids.
Her new book Streetplay documents the kids of the neighbourhood at play in the rough New York streets. "The poorer neighbourhoods, Cooper notes, seemed to posses the richest street life, her favourite being Alphabet City. There's something heartening about these images of kids turning watse intotoys and, at the same time, a sense that this kind of innocent play belongs to another era" (Creative Review, July 07. Pg54)
Martha Cooper is a documentary photographer who has specialized in urban vernacular art and architecture for more than twenty-five years. Coopers’ remarkable photos capture the spontaneous and improvisatory nature of children’s play. Her photos illuminate the way the city itself became a game board in an era when unsupervised play offered children a free school on the streets.