About the Photographer
American, b. 1960 Brooklyn, NY
Ken Schles’ Invisible City is a gritty portrait of the mythic East Village of the mid-80s. First published in 1988 to critical acclaim, it was revised and reissued in 2014, with both the New York Times and Time Magazine naming the title a notable photobook of the year. His black-and-white images offer an insider view of a turbulent decade in New York City, during which Schles lived in an abandoned building on a drug-ravaged block on Avenue B. He photographed at the height of the AIDS crisis and heroin epidemic, capturing the nocturnal urban life of a neighborhood comprised of struggling artists of all kinds, as well as junkies, dealers, and prostitutes. But while bleak, Schles’ photographs also convey the emotional depth of being alive and present in a specific place at a specific time, one that cannot be recovered. His work is housed in the permanent collections of more than 100 libraries and museums worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and LACMA.