IAW Artist Series: Lilian Caruana

Lilian Caruana is a photographer, with roots in documentary photography and individuals who are outside of mainstream society. She has photographed immigrants, punks, skinheads, and gang members. Learn more on her website.

She writes:

I explore how individuals who, either by choice or because they are seen as the “other” live outside the dominant culture. My goal is to capture how individuals shape their identity, fend off alienation, and give voice to their own existence. This theme comes out of my own experience as an immigrant, trying to negotiate my identity as an Italian-American.

For my project documenting New York’s East Village community of punks and skinheads in the 1980s, I wanted to look beyond their exoticism—their ragged, torn, and slashed clothing, hardware jewelry of safety pins, studs, chains, shaved heads, mohawks, or spiked haircuts, and their body tattoos. I wanted to learn more about who they were and what they believed in and photographed them at hardcore performances at the legendary punk rock club, CBGB, and then followed them to where they lived, as squatters in abandoned tenement buildings in the East Village.

Her book, Rebels: Punks and Skinheads of New York’s East Village is available here.

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