BIG UPS at The Studio / Webster Hall
Photographs © Adrian Fussell
Reina de la Calle
Carnival – Las Tablas, Panama
Earlier in February I traveled with a fellow photographer from Warwickshire who specialises in wedding photography Martin Hemsley to the second largest Carnival celebration in the world, held over five day in the rural town of Las Tablas, Panama, four hours drive from the capital. Tens of thousands gathered in the town square to see the queens from Calle Arriba and Calle Abajo battle for the crown. Water tankers lined the streets during the day, spraying the crowds as queens and floats and musicians danced past. At night the two factions’ supporters would set off the most awesome and dangerous display of fireworks that I have ever seen. By most accounts, Calle Arriba won.
In January, I was fortunate to spend more time in the Rockaways for the magazine Causette, documenting the work of volunteers and residents to repair the community.
Many in the neighborhood were without heat and some were still without power. Drywall was stripped from ground floor apartments to prevent mold, and sidewalks were piled high with debris. The volunteers had organized themselves but were struggling financially.
It was a bittersweet return to the community, the kind of feeling that makes you question the efficacy of photojournalism. I have a record of this event and this community from the day after the hurricane struck. People who I now consider friends thanked me for simply being there, but how do I use that to rebuild a community center? Or provide new drywall and insulation to a young woman in a freezing home? Or clean a park of waist deep sand?
Next month, I hope to have a special donation for the community at Beach 116th Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Stay tuned!