Meryl Meisler was in the wrong place at the right time. While photographing the disco scene in 1970’s New York, she’d only heard of the chaos of the 77′ blackout in Bushwick, where the loss of power lead to rioting and looting. When she took a teaching job in the neighborhood, it exposed her to a world she’d never seen before, one that was dramatically different from her life of partying at Studio 54. Her new book, called A Tale Of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick, explores these parallel universes as she inhabited them. The photos capture a certain moment in history that Meisler wouldn’t realize the relevance of untill much later.
Why did I take these pictures? Were they a visual diary? Did I sense the disco era would shutter as quickly as it emerged, or that Bushwick was going to make a come back? I feel a little like Candide with a camera: that I was destined in emerging adulthood to document the rhythms of the city and the struggle in Bushwick when the ashes cooled. I learned that if all is not for “the best in this best of all possible worlds,” that change is inevitable and rebirth possible.
Her book is out now and photos from it will be on display at Bizarre through September 10th. (Photos Courtesy Meryl Meisler)