All images and text by Nei Valente. Used with permission.
“Fifth Avenuers” is a visual registry of people and moments from one of the most iconic avenues in the world. It captures the vibrancy created by the mix of people who walk along the street that divides Manhattan into east and west. Some of the most famous museums in New York—like MoMA, the Met, and the Guggenheim—attract art-conscious locals and tourists alike. Others are attracted to Fifth Avenue by its proximity to Central Park and the ostentatious, tall buildings that line the avenue, including the Empire State and Flatiron buildings, Rockefeller Center, and Trump Tower. Those who can afford to, shop along one of the most well-known and high-end shopping streets in the world. Store employees, construction workers, and street vendors are combined, and sometimes contrasted, with the people who work in the tall buildings and walk on the avenue during their commute. To further add to the energy and bustling atmosphere, the street hosts important events like the LGBT Pride March, Puerto Rican Day Parade, and St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
For a couple of months, I walked along Fifth Avenue trying to capture the specific things that encapsulated the vibrancy of the avenue. If you paint a canvas with fifty black dots and add just one red dot, your painting is no longer about the fifty black dots. But it’s also not about the red dot. The painting is about the relationship of the fifty dots that looks the same with that one different red dot. That’s what I had in mind when photographing the avenue during my lunch breaks. I was always imagining the street as a canvas and trying to include in my photos the interactions and people that would be the red dot, representing a specific moment on Fifth Avenue. Because, to accurately represent a place, you can’t photograph only the ordinary people and scenes, but also capture what contrasts with the normality and thus makes that place special enough to be photographed.