National Building Museum Presents “Documenting Crossroads: Survival and Remembrance Under the Pandemic”

Categories: Articles, Press

Part 3 of Camilo José Vergara’s Photo and Essay Series on How the Coronavirus
Has Impacted Poor, Minority Urban Communities

December 23, 2020: Merry Christmas. Musicians and children, Penn Station, New York, New York. © Camilo José Vergara

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Since March 2020, when Covid-19 began to radically alter life in the U.S., renowned urban documentarian Camilo José Vergara has been recording in photographs and words the ways in which the pandemic has affected poor, segregated neighborhoods. A longtime partner of the National Building Museum, Vergara has organized these images and essays into an ongoing online exhibition, Documenting Crossroads. The third part of the exhibition, Survival and Remembrance Under the Pandemic, is now on the Museum’s website.

Survival and Remembrance captures the impacts of the pandemic in the months since June, when the second part, The New Normal, was published. Across its four webpages—each containing an essay and extensive photo gallery—Survival and Remembrance reveals the power of the coronavirus on minority urban neighborhoods in New York City and across the river in New Jersey, especially the ways in which it has altered public space: for earning a living or sharing and distributing food resources, for artistic commentary on the pandemic, and for memorializing those who have been lost to Covid:

As with The New Normal, this exhibition was produced in collaboration with Elihu Rubin, associate professor of urbanism at the Yale School of Architecture, and consulting curator Chrysanthe Broikos. In addition, Vergara and Rubin discussed the project in an early December online public program. The 90-minute video is available for viewing on the exhibition’s webpage.

Survival and Remembrance Under the Pandemic is a powerful testament to the pandemic’s largely overlooked effects on poor, urban communities—effects that will echo beyond 2020.

Braulio Agnese, Director of Marketing and Communications,

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One of the nation’s foremost urban documentarians, Camilo José Vergara is a recipient of the 2012 National Humanities Medal and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2002. Drawn to America’s inner cities, Vergara has been recording urban landscapes and impoverished neighborhoods since 1970, the year he settled in New York City.

Elihu Rubin is Associate Professor of Urbanism at the Yale School of Architecture. His work bridges urban disciplines, focusing on the built environments of 19th- and 20th-century cities, the history and theory of city planning, urban geography and the cultural landscape, transportation and mobility, architectural preservation and heritage planning, and the social life of urban space.