I am very sensitive to light. Most photographers have this in common. The sight of dappling sunshine stretching across a wall and the slivers of taxis’ headlights coming through the shades at night makes my eyes spin and perk up like red sevens in a cartoon slot machine. This is one in a hundred reasons of why Manhattanhenge appeals to me.
For those unfamiliar with the term, the skint’s newsletter reminds me each year to “see the sun set in alignment with the Manhattan street grid during the twice-annual Manhattanhenge celestial event, best viewed from the far east ends of 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd and 57th st.”
Manhattanhenge turns New York into a land art installation twice a year — not unlike Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels, a Utah-based piece in the Great Basin Desert, through which concrete cylinders are perfectly aligned with the setting sun during the winter and summer solstices. This go-round, Manhattanhenge landed on May 29th, May 30th, July 12th and July 13th. It’s the planetary coronation of summer, the opening curtain to astronomy’s best Broadway show on 42nd St, and what could be better than that?
In May, I detoured one night in order to catch a glance of Manhattanhenge and saw its fan base before I encountered the event itself. Dozens of people crowded around, dodging cars in the street between two medians, both stumbling upon and intentionally congregating in the middle of the intersection in order to behold the sight. The choreography of the little herd, running into the street when the walk sign lit up, scattering once the pedestrian light counted down to zero, was the most communal event I’d witnessed in this anonymous borough in months. And so, poof, a Man Repeller shoot idea — an ode to Manhattanhenge — was born.
I challenge you to find an even better way to celebrate some such celestial happening than I found, running up and down a major Midtown thoroughfare with a friend you haven’t caught up with in a while, wearing a dress made of pressed-flower-chainmail in thick midsummer humidity, chasing that reddish golden light.
And for our next act, we will aspire to photograph the fashion at New York’s antipodes (the place on the Earth diametrically opposite of our city, quite literally as the line from New York to its antipode forms a perfect diameter, which in this case happens to be a pinpoint in the Indian Ocean, three hundred miles off the southwest coast of Australia, which you already know if you read Ian Frazier from time-to-time).
Styled by Harling Ross. Photographed by Edith Young. Modeled by Juliet Johnstone.