JILL FREEDMAN: STREET COPS

On view from September 13th – October 26th, 2012 

President’s Gallery

The vintage photographs in this exhibition are from the famed collection “Street Cops” photographed in the late 1970s by award-winning fine arts and documentary photographer Jill Freedman. A petite powerhouse, Freedman quite literally inserted herself into active crime scenes in order to take these gritty photos at a time when New York City was just as gritty. Freedman prowled the streets of Manhattan with her camera during the age of the ‘70s blackout and subsequent rioting and looting, when New York was allegedly “broke” and drugs, crime, and homelessness were rampant.

Evidently fearless, Freedman documented the activities and personalities of New York’s finest during this epoch. Her images capture a long lost “cop” persona that is very different from the one we are accustomed to today—who identify themselves with the insignia currently painted on NYPD squad cars: “CPR: Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect”. Freedman’s cops are a different breed. They came of age in the wake of the Knapp Commission and widespread police corruption. Sensitive to the politics surrounding the Commission, they patrolled New York’s toughest neighborhoods during one of its most difficult decades; they knew the names of the folks who lived on their beats and about whom, often paradoxically, they cared.

Featured in JILL FREEDMAN: STREET COPS are 34 vintage silver gelatin prints generously lent by the photographer to dovetail with the theme of “Art for Justice” which is essential to the exhibition schedule of the President’s Gallery and the Anya and Andrew Shiva Art Gallery at John Jay College, as well as to the mission of the College more broadly, “Educating for Justice.”

Curated by Lisa Farrington

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