Lucy McKeon is on the editorial staff of the NYR Daily.


Living Room Portraits: ‘They Betray Who You Are’

Gwen Callec and Michael Schäfer, photographer, Prenzlauer Berg, 2014

Lucy McKeon: You see photographs of living rooms as portraits of people’s interiors—both literally and as visual representations of who they are. Dominique Nabokov: Yes, the living room is ultimately the vitrine, your vitrine, to the world. It’s where you want to show yourself to the world, consciously or unconsciously. And even if you use an interior decorator, it still will betray who you are. So, in a way, it’s like your clothes. It betrays who you are—not 100 percent, of course, but 75 percent.

The Photographs I’ve Never Seen

Rome, 1955

Today, behind the computerized shutter-click of a smartphone camera, I still sometimes sense in myself and in others the impulse to remember something before it’s over—to make some use of an experience even as it’s still happening. Some might explain this as the artist’s instinct to capture and transform. From another perspective, it’s the intellectual’s urge to analyze, to further experience the experience. Or is it a kind of compulsion—in its most cynical form, the capitalist’s need to consume the moment, to own it? One thinks of the tourist too busy photographing to see the actual living that is occurring all around him. He forces a fleeting present more quickly into the realm of that-has-been, and the local passersby laugh at his shortsightedness.

Swagger & Pomp: Jamaica’s Dancehall Style

Jamaica, as island politicians and historians of pop music have grown fond of saying, is a country whose cultural impact has been wildly disproportionate to its size. The imagery of Jamaican music, not just the sound, has captured the global imagination for decades. Beth Lesser’s photographs from the Eighties document the zenith of dancehall—often described as reggae’s raucous younger sibling.

Police Shooting: A Five-Year Quest for Justice

A still from the video surveillance footage taken outside Ramarley Graham's family home showing Officer Richard Haste trying to enter and another NYPD officer, gun drawn, February 2, 2012

A great deal has happened in the five years since Ramarley Graham was fatally shot by NYPD Officer Richard Haste. Attempts to indict Haste have been unsuccessful, but last month the NYPD has pursued its own investigation of Haste, where witnesses and police experts showed that multiple police protocols had been ignored in the events leading up to the shooting. But it is rare that an officer is prosecuted, let alone convicted, for killing a civilian while on duty.

The True Story of Rastafari

A mural of Leonard Howell in Tredegar Park, near where the first Rastafari community was formed in the 1930s, Spanish Town, Jamaica, January 4, 2014

Rastafari began not simply as a form of countercultural expression or fringe religious belief. It involved a fight for justice by disenfranchised Jamaicans, peasant laborers and the urban underemployed alike, in what was then a British colony. Rastafari have long been persecuted by the Jamaican government for their sacramental use of cannabis. But with marijuana recently decriminalized in Jamaica, descendants of the original Rasta movement are in danger of losing what remains of the land in central Jamaica where their community began.

Photographing the Psyche

During photography’s early days in the mid-nineteenth century, the photographic portrait was expected to convey neutrality. But Marcel Sternberger, the leading portrait photographer of his generation, who photographed some of the most celebrated icons of the 1930s to 1950s, used psychological techniques to create a photograph representative of his subject’s inner state. Though Sternberger has since faded into obscurity, many of his portraits have not.

‘Nadja à Paris’

Nadja Tesich jogging in Eric Rohmer's Nadja à Paris, 1964

When I attempt to describe my years in Paris, no one believes me, I can tell. It was too Hollywood-dream perfect. Here is Nadja coming out of the student restaurant, minding her own business, and who should appear next but Eric Rohmer and within minutes he wants to make a film about her life.