The experience of New York can be overwhelming, especially now. Dramatic rent increases are squeezing more and more people out of their communities. Interchangeable glass towers shoot up like weeds. Thin skyscraper-playgrounds of the ultra-rich assault the skyline. The scale and pace of the changing city feels extreme, but it’s a story as old as New York itself.
That pressure on the present, squeezed between the past and future, has been documented for more than five decades by filmmaker Manfred Kirchheimer. He might not be a household name, but Kirchheimer is a keen observer of the urban landscape, and his films reflect a profound understanding of their ephemerality. The Museum of Modern Art is hosting a career-spanning retrospective of his work, running February 3-11, and the timing couldn’t be better.