The Sheen Center's photo exhibition “captures the human and the divine present in the pandemic experience in photographic images and video testimonials.”
It was Susan Sontag who famously said “all photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.” The transformation of everyday mayhem into contemplative stillness that photography makes possible becomes an affirmation of things as they are, in their fragile normality. In this kind of opening, in the everyday being of things and beings, truth can be found.
Last year, New York City went through the deadliest disaster in its history: 34,000 people have died of COVID-19 so far. To put it in perspective, the ongoing pandemic is already responsible for seventeen times more deaths than those caused by the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
For its reopening after the COVID-19 shutdowns, the Sheen Center created a multi-platform event that intends to capture “the human and the divine present in the pandemic experience in photographic images and video testimonials.” While portraying the heroic efforts of first responders, the exhibition (called Portraits of Grace) focuses on the other heroes of the pandemic: “priests, consecrated women and men, and dedicated lay people who have journeyed with their fellow New Yorkers in countless ways, bringing consolation at a time of apparent desolation and above all bringing the Gospel’s message of hope and, over time, the spirit of joyful resilience.”
Curated by the noted photographer Jeffrey Bruno, the images included in Portraits of Grace show “the Church’s living witness to the Gospel and, among other things, celebrate all those who were there to meet the physical and spiritual needs of a people in crisis.” From September 14 to October 4, the photo exhibition will be on display in the Sheen Center gallery (18 Bleecker St, NY, 10012), Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm, and Sundays from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.