By the end of May 2020 the unjust killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police unleashed an unprecedented series of protests all over the United States and beyond.
Across New York, and in Brooklyn specifically, a populace that had been stuck in their homes since the end of March took to the streets. Black Lives Matter marches and rallies provided an outlet for rage, gave a city of people who felt powerless in the face of a pandemic a sense of community, a shared purpose.
The masks we had all been wearing over the previous months themselves became canvases, blank slates that could be covered in messages of hope and resistance.
Francesca Magnani was out there among them, taking photos just as she does nearly every day.
“The closeness and sense of belonging I felt during the protests of 2020 was invaluable currency after months of physical and emotional isolation,” she says.
“As an immigrant and as a photographer it is precious, humbling and sublime to have those moments of recognition in which I feel the different parts of myself integrate—and at the same time I am able to honor other humans, commune in one meaningful cause, and go with the flow.”
Some of her images from the summer of unrest have been acquired by the Smithsonian Museum as part of the museum’s first set of pandemic-related digital acquisitions. And fifteen images of Brooklyn during the 2020 Black Lives Matter demonstrations are now part of “Brooklyn Resists” a collaborative initiative by the Brooklyn Public Library’s Center for Brooklyn History.
and Urban Archive.
Magnani, who was born in Italy, also has an exhibit called The City in Masks at the General Consulate of Italy through December 10. And beginning November 13, some of her prints will be on view at Oslo Coffee Roasters at 133 Roebling Avenue.
Here’s a sample of her work, stretching from Coney Island, up through Fifth Avenue, into downtown and the Barclays Center, which became a de facto town square during the protests:
A couple holds flowers at a George Floyd rally (Photo by Francesca Magnani)
Warriors in the Garden at the Brooklyn Library. (Francesca Magnani)
Black Lives Matter: Journalist Touré on Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn (Francesca Magnani)
Stop Killing Black People, Barclays Center (Francesca Magnani)
Protestors on Atlantic Avenue (Francesca Magnani)
Director Spike Lee films the march (Francesca Magnani)
Protestors take over the Williamsburg Bridge (Francesca Magnani)
A better world (Francesca Magnani)
Respectfully stop, Coney Island (Francesca Magnani)
Riders in Williamsburg in front of the pensive girl mural.(Francesca Magnani)