Dark City: Photos of a disorienting New York in lockdown

Photographer and long-time New Yorker Dina Litovsky captured the city in its coronavirus-induced haze before it reopened.
June 28, 2020, 1:00 PM UTC
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“It felt like the city was yours. But now, I feel like it’s not anymore. Everyone took it back,” photographer Dina Litovsky tells Fortune.

Litovsky spent three months photographing New York City during its shelter-in-place order. Now that the city’s is in phase 2 of reopening, the world she saw and created is disappearing.

Litovsky’s photographs are typically layered with busy social interactions that she makes sense of in her framing. But as she walked the city during the early stages of the pandemic, going from the East Village to Midtown Manhattan, she was disoriented by the lack of usual chaos in the space. As a New Yorker for 25 years, Litovsky says she’s never seen the city or felt the city in this way.

“It was disorienting to be in such a beautiful space while acknowledging the reason for its emptiness,” Litovsky says.

Instead of focusing on the action of the pandemic that was constantly covered by photojournalists, she was drawn to the cinematic and hypnotic state her city was in. She searched for extreme color, which once eluded her because it was lost in the chaos of everyday life. The bright colors in her images illuminate what the city once was pre-pandemic, and she described the bright spaces as a consistent element in her work as a way “to defy expectations to overcome dark times.”

Litovsky aimed to capture the city’s disoriented state, and she found herself photographing people in between moments, which she describes as “hypnotic.” She says, “All the familiar things lost their function. Parks were no longer for enjoying, surveillance cameras were surveilling nothing, etc.

“I was capturing a very specific world that was alienating and eerie, but that kept disappearing before my eyes as we got closer to the phase one reopening.”

Scroll below to see more images of Dina Litovsky’s “Dark City.Check out her instagram here.

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