In Manhattan Sunday, a new book and exhibition by Richard Renaldi, the photographer reflects on the New York City nightclub scene that has been integral to his life. The photographs, a combination of documentary images and posed portraits made between 2010 and 2016, depict DJs, performers and club-goers both in the club and on city streets in the early morning hours. Renaldi also pays close attention to the city itself, showing readers a peaceful, nearly empty urban landscape unfamiliar to most people.
For the book, published by Aperture, Renaldi sequenced his images chronologically, beginning with photographs made in clubs just after midnight, then carrying the reader through the early morning, into the street at dawn and beyond. Inside the clubs, he shows us the blur of the party and quiet, more intimate moments. Outside, there are the empty streets, the architecture of the city, and people beginning their journeys home.
In a highly personal essay that reveals the depth of Renaldi’s contemplation of his club experiences, he recalls New York’s scene during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, his formative relationships, his HIV diagnosis and subsequent retreat from the clubs, and his later return “as both participant and observer, trying to remain a part of it still, trying not to let go.”
“I often thought of those transcendent mornings spent inside nightclubs as echoes of the Sunday mornings I attended mass as a child,” Renaldi writes. “On the dance floor, observing the whirl of beautiful bodies and wheeling lights, feeling the groove of the music, I sometimes experienced a blissfulness unlike anything I had ever known—a sense of fraternity between nightlife friends I have grown older with, year after year.” —Conor Risch
The exhibition at Benrubi Gallery in New York City runs until December 23.