A musician in purple velvet pauses with his guitar; two boys with shadows of mustaches smile in graduation caps and gowns; a woman touched with summertime sheen brandishes a watermelon. In the Instagram age of digitally-enhanced, over-filtered, super-styled selfies, Italian photographer Lele Saveri has captured the gritty, offbeat beauty of commuters in the New York City subway.
These may be familiar faces to New Yorkers who travel regularly through the Lorimer Street-Metropolitan Avenue subway stop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. That’s where Saveri took the photographs in 2013, as he manned The Newsstand, a pop-up zine shop in a defunct storefront inside the subway station.
The Newsstand, which Kevin Kearney and Jamie Falkowski of creative agency Alldayeveryday created in collaboration with Saveri, who is also the founder of independent publisher 8 Ball Zines, was a haven for indie print media that took on a life of its own in 2013, remaining open for six months longer than its originally intended six-week run. At the end of the Newsstand’s existence in January of 2014, Saveri presented his portraits in the station, and allowed commuters who recognized themselves to keep their own.
Now, The Newsstand will be resurrected at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, where a replica of the original storefront is installed, subway tiles and all, at the entrance of the museum’s exhibit of new photography. Tucked on the shelves is a special addition to the publications: Commuters, a limited-edition selection of the subway portraits, some of which are included here.