Born in 1946, Bruce Gilden’s childhood in Brooklyn endowed him with a keen eye for observing urban behaviors and customs. He studied sociology, but his interest in photography grew when he saw Michelangelo Antonioni’s film Blow-Up, after which he began taking night classes in photography at the New York School of Visual Arts.
Gilden’s curiosity about strong characters and individual peculiarities has been present from the beginning of his career. His first major project, which he worked on until 1986, focused on Coney Island, the legendary New York beach. During these early years Gilden also photographed in New Orleans during its famous Mardi Gras festival. Then, in 1984, he began to work in Haiti, where he returned nineteen times. The book Haiti concluded this work in 1996. In February 2010, Gilden went back to Haiti, and has now returned three more times to work on a second opus dedicated to the Haitians’ everyday life struggles.
Since 1981, Bruce Gilden had been working on his on-going project, the streets of New York City. It culminated in the publication of Facing New York in 1992, and later in 2005, in A Beautiful Catastrophe. His next project After the Off explored rural Ireland and its passion for horseracing. Gilden also carried out personal projects in India and Russia.
Published in 2000 Gilden’s next book, Go, is the result of Gilden’s immersion in Japanese culture, with images of Yakuza (the Japanese Mafia), the homeless, and Bosozoku (young biker gangs In 2008, Bruce Gilden felt the need to photograph in his own country and draw a social portrait of America in this time of great recession. In the fall of 2011, Gilden will have completed the fourth segment of his extended personal project on foreclosures in Nevada, No Place like Home which had previously led him to Florida, Detroit, and Fresno, California.
This summer, Gilden traveled to Australia to photograph Mick Gatto and his friends for his ongoing project on special characters. Gilden will also carry out a commission for the Archive of Modern Conflict in London that he started in 2010.
Bruce Gilden joined Magnum in 1998. He lives in New York City.
via Magnum Photos