Silent Cities: Portraits of a Pandemic; 15 Cities Across the World

Skyhorse. Nov. 2021. 384p. ISBN 9781510767256. $40. PHOTOG
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the world’s most bustling cities came to a stop. Streets and sidewalks were eerily empty with shop windows shuttered. This photo book documents the shut-down entertainment and business districts that readers might not have seen while quarantined at home. Two brief introductory essays by the book’s editors, art dealers Jeffrey and Julie Loria, are followed by 15 chapters, each devoted to a major city (seven of which are located in the United States). Each chapter includes a brief statement and full color images by a locally based photographer. The work tries to be both a photo book and a critical examination of pandemic life. Snapshots of masked pedestrians and health care workers, along with pandemic signage, interrupt the images of vacant streets. But collectively, the photographs fail to distinctly capture the experience of living through a pandemic in a major metropolitan area. A better-curated selection of images for each city would have given the book more impact.
VERDICT This book will most likely not interest photographers, but will be a quick browse for many casual readers who want to recall our recent, collective past.
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