Bike Life is a new photography exhibition by Brian Finke photographed between Fall 2020 and Summer 2021.
During the Covid shutdown, photographer Brian Finke began going to New York City bike ride-outs. Shooting while riding, he attempted to capture the other side of the bike world—the moments, personalities, friendships, unique styles, and incredible athleticism and talent of the New York City bike life community.
The Bike Life scene is predominantly young adults and teens from diverse backgrounds and genders from all around the city who, through bike tricks—wheelies, swerving, dancing, and surfing—express a sort of creative language and personal style that borders on a movement. The circulating message “we’re outside” speaks to a certain adjoining vibe—of freedom and positivity, staying true, celebrating and lifting up each other’s individual styles, not only on the bike but the world that follows, in their being.
During ride-outs—impromptu or planned gatherings of around 500, though sometimes only 10 or 50, sometimes as many as 1500—bikers weave through the city anywhere from 10, 15, or 35 miles. En masse, ride-outs shut down streets and bridges, from Times Square and the Tri-Borough to FDR highway. Covid pandemic enabled abundant space on emptied NYC streets, and cops, who usually targeted their community, laid off, finally seeing they had bigger fish to fry.
A parade of stunts and kinetic compositions, choreographed and freestyle, mesmerize bystanders and affirm internally and externally that bike life is more than crazy in chaos and running lights — it’s the movement and tricks and being in the flow. It’s the feeling of wind while you map the city. It’s popping wheelies with your pack. In Bike Life, that bike is life.
About the Author
Brian Finke’s visual cultural commentary focuses on authenticity and the absurdity of everyday life and the range of human behavior. A stylized documentarian and trained photojournalist, Finke’s honesty and intimacy when capturing subjects strike at the core of contemporary life, with a uniquely American point of context and graphic sensibility.
Often with the boundary-pushing subject matter, Finke challenges the viewer to confront what is often right in front of them, with an almost surreal understanding of immediacy, time, and place. From street photography to commercial portraiture to fashion editorials, His immersion in the culture at large creates imagery that is deeply tied to the political and emotional undertones of the modern world.
A graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York City, Finke received a BFA in photography. He is the author of several books, and his first monograph, 2, 4, 6, 8, (2003), was named one of the best photography books by American Photo magazine. Earlier in his career, Finke was one of twelve artists nominated for the International Center for Photography’s annual Infinity Award, and he won a prestigious New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship.
His work is in nine museum collections in the U.S. and abroad, and he regularly shoots for editorial clients like National Geographic, The New Yorker, and The New York Times as well as commercial clients, including Delta Airlines, Uber Eats, and Budweiser. In addition to photographing his long-term personal projects, Brian is a guest teacher in photography at the International Center of Photography in Manhattan, The New School, Red Hook Labs in Brooklyn, and FotoFilmic in Vancouver.
A native Texan, Finke lives in Brooklyn and is passionate about travel, tattoos, barbecue, and biking.
Brian Finke: Bike Life
September 18 – October 2, 2021
NYC Street Photography Collective – New York
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