Acclaimed photographer Donna Ferrato will display never-before-seen documentary photographs of the greatest party in the history of New York City, June 5-18, 2014
“In the beginning I didn’t know anything about Josh Harris or ‘We Live In Public’ except for the stuff I’d been reading in the New York Post.”
Celebrated photographer Donna Ferrato says she was hooked on the idea of being part of the month-long party, staged by 90s Internet mogul Josh Harris, with everybody living together. “I had to photograph it,” she recalls, “which meant I had to infiltrate the scene like a regular person with a camera. Nobody knew me. I didn’t know what to expect from the experience, but I had to get in there to document it.”
Twenty-eight of Ferrato’s never-before-seen photograph’s from ‘Quiet: We Live In Public’ will be shown as part of the art series “A Quiet Summer” at 166 Mott Street, June 5 – 18, with an opening reception on Thursday, June 5th, 7-9 p.m.
Although Ferrato was working for the mainstream media, at outlets such as TIME, People and LIFE, she didn’t want to do ‘We Live In Public’ as an assignment. “I wanted to experience the madness of completely submerging myself with a bunch of insane strangers,” she says.
The party was planned for the last month of the 20th century and Ferrato remembers it as “raw and unfiltered, marked by sleeplessness, lots of drinking, tension and fights. The Quiet people had the whole warehouse in which to act out the human social experiment. We slept in pods in the basement where it was dark and dangerous.”
Everything was free at the Quiet party: the finest alcohol and freshly prepared gourmet food.
“I had documented NYC’s craziest places in the late seventies; Studio 54, Plato’s Retreat, the Fun House, Chateau 19, and the Paradise,” says Ferrato, “so I was looking and ready for craziness.”
The New York Post wrote about the social experiment/art installation pretty regularly, but much of NYC media – and most of the public – didn’t know a lot about it. The Quiet party ended with then-mayor Giuliani’s New York police forcing its closing.
“After it ended, I tried to sell it as a package to magazines but they weren’t interested in the story,” says Ferrato. “The media could not even comprehend that something like that had happened right under the nose of the police! So the pictures stayed untouched and unseen for the last 14 years. This is the first time I’ve ever shown the work.”
“Quiet: We Live In Public” was designated by ArtForum a Top 10 Art Installation and widely regarded as a prediction of the addictive and consuming social media world we live in today. Gallerist Amy Li is mounting a series of short exhibitions in tribute to “Quiet” in her space at 166 Mott Street, New York, NY 10013, June 5 – August 31, 2014.