Monday, January 9, 2012

Photo Essay: Little Odessa by Adam Custins and Valery Gherman - People

There are times when we wish Black was a 1000-page magazine so that we could actually publish all of the fantastic work our contributors deliver. It is an economy of scale of course, but here online there are no limits. Over two posts here is Adam Custins and Valery Gherman's splendid day on Brighton Beach, which we could only dedicate six pages to in BLK #15. Gherman, Black's New York Editor was born in Odessa in the Ukraine before first immigrating to New Zealand and then New York. Brighton Beach, on the south-western tip of Long Island is known as 'Little Odessa' because of the proliferation of Ukrainians and as these pictures show, many more nations. Here are the people they encountered on that day, a multi-national sea of Speedos, tans and sunshine captured by Custins' quiver of instant cameras and film stocks - including Impossible Project. Intro by Valery Gherman.

I was born in the Ukrainian city of Odessa, and whilst my family immigrated to New Zealand, many of my relatives migrated to a neighbourhood in Brooklyn, New York called Brighton Beach, AKA, Little Odessa. Living in Manhattan, I manage to visit the neighbourhood regularly and take in the atmosphere, familiar smells, and the cast of characters. Most Jewish immigrants of the 1970’s and 1980’s from the former Soviet Union to New York were drawn to the Brighton Beach neighbourhood and whilst they came from all over the Soviet Union, the majority came from my city of birth, Odessa - hence the name ‘Little Odessa’ and its distinct cultural flavor. Today the neighbourhood is still the hub and magnet of the Russian-speaking population, as well as attracting people from all over the city for its raucous restaurants, cabarets, and of course, its famous boardwalk and beach. Here is a glimpse into a typical summer day at the beach, captured by fellow New Zealander Adam Custins. Valery Gherman.