Critics’ Picks

Daniel Arnold, 1:21:41, 2019, digital C-print, 40 x 30".

Daniel Arnold, 1:21:41, 2019, digital C-print, 40 x 30".

New York

Daniel Arnold

27 Orchard Street
October 13–November 24, 2019

Being a city dweller can easily turn the sunniest of souls into a jaded, solipsistic griper. Combine continually rising rents and overpopulation with an endlessly dwindling livable wage, and inevitably, one’s outer shell hardens. Yet a glowing exception to all this can be found in the work of photographer Daniel Arnold, known for his playfully candid street shots of New Yorkers. His spirited pictures have struck a resonant chord with many and have gained impressive notoriety on Instagram. And now, IRL, Arnold’s work is being displayed here for his first solo exhibition, titled “1:21.”

The show features a collection of photographs and videos taken this past summer, which distill the sticky intimacy of Gotham’s sweltering dog days. One such photo captures a voluptuous, disembodied arm taking a selfie with a paper umbrella–adorned piña colada near some NYPD officers. Yet, upon closer inspection, the subject’s face is visible in her iPhone screen—she’s beaming ear-to-ear with her tropical drink. It’s works like these—and there are many in the show—that make the viewer beam, too. Arnold’s deadpan wit and oblique approach to capturing his subjects shine through; and it’s clear that other photographers such as Nan Goldin and Sandy Kim are among his aesthetic kin. Like them, his survey of urban life can at various moments be funny, raw, or touching.

The show culminates in a video—roughly nine minutes long—of various clips that primarily take place on the street or in the subway: class equalizers of the urban landscape. In this work, we see people talking on the phone, crying, fighting, laughing, singing, working, yelling, dancing, and behaving bizarrely. Watching it unfold from one scene to the next, we are pulled out of our myopic self-obsession, if only for a moment, and made cognizant of the rich and beautiful world around us. We are moved to feel life itself.