Photographs from The Dream by Mike Peters

Issue 22

New York City, 9/11/2010

The images in this set mark the end of a personal journey for me. I feel that my life and perhaps all of our lives have been changed by the events that took place nine years ago. These images are the result of a day spent in and around the sights and sounds at the epicenter of our national and personal tragedy. I found people coping with sadness, tempered by the heroic struggle to maintain a sense of normalcy and dignity in the face of fear and ignorance. I found people trying to make sense of that which is beyond our human ability to comprehend.

This is part of a larger body of work, which I have titled The Dream. For the past eight years I have photographed in working-class neighborhoods of New York City and Northern New Jersey. It's where I come from and who I am, so these are the places and people I am most comfortable with in making a genuine assessment of what I know and how I feel. I saw things changing, and needed to photograph what it looked and felt like to be in this place, at this time.

I didn't know what I was looking for at the beginning of this project. However, the faces I found in my photographs directed me towards more faces, in more places. Etched deeply into those faces were stories, both real and imagined, that were far more fascinating than can be found in any supermarket tabloid.

With this entire project, I wanted to do more than just show what was in front of me. I could not separate what I saw from how I felt, who I am, or where I come from. In each person I choose to photograph, I recognize something of myself, an essence to which I can relate and understand.

As a response to the preoccupation by the media with those at the extremes of the social order, I was most interested in photographing people in the middle, those with the most to lose, and least to fall back on. Those who toil in obscurity behind the scenes, and whose efforts of making and doing are integral to this daily theater we call life. Or, in other words, ordinary American lives in the twenty-first century.

Mike Peters is a Montclair, NJ based artist.
To view more of his work, please visit his website.

  Walking with flag 

Walking with flag 

  Worth fighting 

Worth fighting 

  Woman at fence 

Woman at fence 

  Looking up 

Looking up 

  Jesus saves 

Jesus saves 

  Flowers in fence 

Flowers in fence 

  Blessing the piper 

Blessing the piper 

  Piper with flag 

Piper with flag 

  Listening to piper 

Listening to piper 

  German tourist 

German tourist 

  Jesus died 

Jesus died 

  Flag hat and shirt 

Flag hat and shirt 

  Listening to conspiracy theorist 

Listening to conspiracy theorist 

  Standing vigil 

Standing vigil 

  Too many names 

Too many names 

  Watchman 

Watchman