Freedman’s earlier work had an activist bent. Her first book documented her weeks dwelling in the shambles of Resurrection City, the Poor People’s Campaign encampment on the National Mall, in 1968. She was inclined to see the police as antagonists, upholders of a failed system of legislation and order. But, following a protracted stint with New York City firefighters (her e-book “Firehouse” was revealed in 1977), Freedman discovered herself much less skeptical. Day by day, the law enforcement officials she adopted received her over. After 4 years of their firm, she got here to love these guys and regard them with a cautious respect. A show of photographs from “Street Cops,” at the moment at Daniel Cooney Fine Art, in Chelsea, opens with a grid of fifty-six small framed portraits of males (and some ladies) in uniform, most smiling, none intimidating, practically all of them white.
This makes Freedman’s collection uneasy viewing for the trendy spectator who considers the topic of American policing inextricable from the drawback of its institutional excesses and abuse. Freedman was anxious to discover a steadiness in her work. She needed us to grasp that her sympathy for the police was clear-eyed, not romantic. Still, one can’t assist however sense that Freedman’s affection for the particular person officers whom she trailed made it arduous for her to see the systemic mechanisms that outline what cops do. On one web page of her e-book, cops are serving to little previous women and joking round with children in the avenue. On one other, a Black man is seated on the sidewalk, surrounded and menaced by officers, being “talked to.” (“It’s the only thing they understand,” a cop complains in the accompanying textual content.) What is disconcerting is that Freedman appears to offer each side of police work equal weight. She wasn’t a muckraker, and would by no means have thought of herself an apologist, however her restraint right here feels dishonest.