Willy Spiller — New York 1977-1985

An exhibition of photos by Swiss photographer Willy Spiller has opened at the Bildhalle in Amsterdam. ‘Willy Spiller — New York 1977-1985’ documents skaters, dancers, boxers and city folk across a span of New York boroughs, captured by the artist during the period he lived in the city.

Born in Zurich and later working in Milan, Spiller moved to New York in the late ‘70s, where he roamed the streets to capture a sense of the energy and absurdity of the city in an era rife with poverty — but rich in culture. His images, which chart the years between the blackout of 1977 up until the early days of the AIDS epidemic, are raw and striking, observing dynamic interactions between city-dwellers from all walks of life.

Highlights include silhouettes of dancers at the world-famous Studio 54 club, a stylish Harlem native dressed in denim jeans and blazer, and a vibrant scene on Orchard Street where characters collide in a street market. But most emphatic are Spiller’s photos of the graffiti-addled Subway trains, which range from schoolgirls on a trip to the beaches at Far Rockaway, to a solitary man with a boombox, waiting on the platform at 72nd St Station.

Willy Spiller — New York 1977-1985’ runs until May 22nd, 2021 at the Bildhalle in Amsterdam.