Hombre y superhombre In Neuvo York, heroes are everywhere. Photo: Dulce Pinzón
If every immigrant, legal or not, suddenly disappeared, New York would come screeching to a halt. Immigrants do the grunt work that keeps Gotham humming, but despite their ubiquity, they’re largely invisible to people outside their communities. According to photographer and former labor organizer Dulce Pinzón, this is especially true of New York’s Mexican labor force, a problem she addresses in her photo series “The Real Story of the Superheroes,” on view at the Brooklyn Public Library. To make her point, Pinzón, 32, persuaded each of her immigrant-laborer subjects—many of whom she knew from her union work—to don a superhero costume that reflected his or her job. Thus Luis Hernandez, seen with a jackhammer at a construction site, is wearing a costume of the Thing, while Juventino Rosas sports Aquaman’s uniform as he slices tuna at the Fulton Fish Market.
A Mexico City native, Pinzón says she came up with the idea in the aftermath of September 11. “I saw that the concept of heroism had been reborn,” she explains, “so I started to think of tributes to Latinos, who go largely unrecognized by the media.” Her immediate inspiration was finding a Spider-Man costume in a flea market. “I thought, What kind of superpowers would a Mexican have? Well, most of them work 12, 14, 16 hours a day!”
While some of the images were shot guerrilla-style, the picture of window-washer Bernabe Mendez as Spidey took six hours. It was one of the first photos Pinzón wanted to take when she began the series in 2004, but the cost of renting a crane to get the right shot was too expensive. FinallyPinzón decided to use a cheaper method—a harness to suspend herself outside of a building 150 feet in the air. “I thought, What the hell, I’ll just hang. But it was scary!”—Howard Halle
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