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Take it to the street: Lee Hassig’s photographs capture Colonial Williamsburg’s Duke of Glocester Street

Street photography, anonymous and obscured, dates to the earliest uses of personal and handheld cameras. One can find black and white photographs of Victorian faces resembling the confused and somewhat defensive expressions snapped candidly on our Canons and iPhones.

Lee Hassig enters this conversation anonymously photographing inhabitants of Duke of Gloucester (“DoG”) Street in Historic Colonial Williamsburg. On “DoG” street history meets modernity with a bang, as tourists are framed against storied architecture. Hassig refers to himself as a “walk-about” photographer citing inspiration from Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and Gary Winogrand. Also reflected in his work are the influences of the formerly anonymous Vivian Maier and of early Edwardian street photographer, Edward Linley Sambourne, who documented the fashions and everyday routines of their times.

 

May 1906, Edward Linley Sambourne, Kensington Church Street, IMAGE: LEIGHTON HOUSE / LIBRARY TIME MACHINE, ROYAL BOROUGH OF KENSINGTON AND CHELSEA

Answering whether street photography is an invasion of privacy, Hassig says

This work, as well as that of my predecessors and contemporaries—is more akin to people-watching than to surveillance. The images permit a viewer to disregard his or her parents’ admonition that to stare is to be impolite. But as Walker Evans, also an occasional artist in the street-photography space, once advised: ‘Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more.’

The “DoG” Street Portraits exhibit will be on view at The Art League gallery, June 5—July 7, 2019.

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