"O New York! My New York!"
Article by Cécile Walschaerts for Accents New York
1:30pm in a Chelsea studio in Manhattan. Judy Mauer has eyes that sparkle. When she looks at her photographs, something magical happens. She pushes back her long blond hair, sighs quietly, and smiles as if New York, this city that she knows by heart, offers her a new perspective every day.
Judy Mauer was born in Brooklyn, and for a few years now she has seen the city through the reflections of its store windows. As an artist, she found her voice somewhat by chance. Two years ago, she began photographing dolls and mannequins on sale at flea markets, which led to photographing mannequins in store windows on the streets of New York.
Both a photographer friend and a teacher at ICP – where Judy learned photography – called Mauer’s attention to her images’ unique way of highlighting the paradoxes of the city. The next day she went out and shot 400 images, and the store windows of New York and their reflections have been an obsession ever since.
“I can’t walk by a window or display without noticing it and photographing it. I shoot constantly, day and night, even in winter. My hands freeze, and sometimes my fingers will hurt for days!” she says. The city that Judy photographs is very different from that which she knew. “In the seventies, New York wasn’t as clean as it is today – everything shone less. We had less money, but everything was more human in a way.”
At the time, Judy could get around in minutes. Subway tokens cost 25 cents and her East Village rent was 150 dollars. In the clubs – like the legendary CBGB – one crossed paths with Patti Smith or the New York Dolls, and the entry fees were affordable. The city had a certain “democracy” to it.
“Every week, artists arrived at Port Authority from all corners of the United States. Manhattan wasn’t such a gathering of real estate agents and bankers. If I hadn’t lived here all my life, I wouldn’t be able to live here now,” she explains. Her work reflects this nostalgia – this change in the city – through the surprising contrasts between luxury, architectural lines, and the plastic silhouettes.