Bruce Gilden has never taken a break from his photography. Except once, in that miserable spring of 2020 when the first Covid attack took us prisoners. Stuck upstate New York with no assistant, and left with his Leica, his wife and a car, ‘lockdowned’ Bruce was going nuts.
Late May, after the death of George Floyd, History came to the rescue with the massive protests springing out all over New York City. Bruce went to explore, driving back and forth to war zone Brooklyn and walking miles and miles on the street in pursuit of the rallies. Until one special day in early June at Barclays Center when the story of Bruce and the Bikers took off.
Bruce found himself caught right in the middle of a loud and spectacular crowd of bikers, predominantly Black. He had just landed in a ride-out prayer for George Floyd called by the mysterious ‘Circuit’, as New York’s Black motorbike community nickname their huge network and its numerous social affairs. After that, Bruce had only one idea in mind: “Find the Bikers…”
And so began a relationship that continues to this day. Determined to explore the real ‘Bike life’ of this unknown and often feared community, Bruce embarked on the social itinerary of the MC ‘Circuit”, photographing tirelessly in and out and beyond New York at the events where the family of riders meet. By the end of the summer, the Bikers had a nickname for Bruce – they called him ‘Everywhere’. Now that he’s a regular on the Circuit, with many good friends within the community, that’s changed to ‘OG’ (Old Guard) or simply ‘Bro’.
About the Author
An Iconic street photographer with a unique style, Bruce Gilden was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1946. He first went to Penn State University but he found his sociology courses too boring for his temperament and he quit college. Gilden briefly toyed with the idea of being an actor but in 1967, he decided to buy a camera and to become a photographer. Although he did attend some evening classes at the School of Visual Arts in New York, Bruce Gilden is to be considered substantially a self-taught photographer.
Right from childhood, he has always been fascinated by the life on thestreets and the complicated and fascinating motion it involves, and this was the spark that inspired his first long-term personal projects, photographing in Coney Island and then during theMardi Gras in New Orleans. Over the years he has produced long and detailed photographic projects in New York, Haiti, France , Ireland, India, Russia, Japan, England and now in America.
Since the seventies his work has been exhibited in museums and art galleries all over the world and is part of many collections.
The photographic style of Bruce Gilden is defined by the dynamic accent of his pictures, his special graphic qualities, and his original and direct manner of shooting the faces of passers-by with a flash. Gilden’s powerful images in black and white and now in color have brought the Magnum photographer worldwide fame.
Gilden has received many awards and grants for his work, including National Endowments for the Arts fellowships (1980, 1984 and 1992), French “Villa Medicis Hors les Murs” grant (1995), grants from the New York State Foundation for the Arts ( 1979, 1992 and 2000), a Japan Foundation Artist Fellowship (1999) and in 2013 a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship.
Bruce Gilden has published 23 monographs of his work, among them: Facing New York, 1992; Bleus, 1994; Haiti, 1996 (European Publishers Award for Photography); After The Off, 1999; Go, 2000; Coney Island, 2002; A Beautiful Catastrophe, 2004; Foreclosures, 2013; A complete Examination of Middlesex, 2014. In 2015, Gilden published Face, and Hey Mister Throw Me Some Beads! Un Nouveau Regard Sur la Mobilité Urbaine featuring the commission he did for the French transporation system RATP was released in April 2016. Only God Can Judge Me 2018, Lost And Found 2019, Palermo Gilden 2020, Cherry Blossom 2021. Bruce Gilden joined Magnum Photos in 1998. He lives in Beacon, New York.