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Desperate Intentions

Alone together in the metropolis

“[S]ociety on our planet is like the anonymous crowd at a major airport: a crowd of people rushing along in haste, mutually indifferent and ignorant.” —Ryszard Kapuscinski

Desperate Intentions is a journey through New York, a chaotic and always too busy metropolis. The exchange of words, desires, and memories that is typical of many cities often doesn’t exist here, where solitary shadows cross the urban landscape facing the paradox between the myth of New York as an island of salvation for many immigrants and the human desert that often welcomes newcomers.

Marshall McLuhan’s “global village” doesn’t exist. “Because in essence,” says Kapuscinski, “village means physical proximity, emotional warmth and intimacy; co-presence and coexistence; compassion and communion.” We do not live in a global village, but rather global cities where busy, frantic people walk around, indifferent to others, with no desire for closeness. New York is the perfect example of modern alienation, loneliness, and mass culture, where the wealth of electronic devices at our disposal leads to ever-reducing human contact.

This series was shot between 2009 and 2010 using analog cameras, without any digital manipulation.


Viviana Peretti is an Italian freelance photographer based in New York. In 2010 she graduated in Documentary Photography and Photojournalism from the International Center of Photography. In 2000, after graduating magna cum laude with a BA in Anthropology from the University of Rome, she moved to Colombia, where she specialized in photojournalism and spent nine years working as a freelance photographer.

She has received fellowships and awards from the International Center of Photography, the Joannie M. Chen Fund in New York, the University of Salamanca, the Spanish Embassy in Colombia, the Photo Museum in Bogotá, and the Colombian Ministry of Culture. She has been published in a number of international newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times and New York Magazine.

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5 comments for Desperate Intentions

  1. Comment by Roberta Allen on February 1, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Lovely photos.

  2. Comment by nilofar saleem on February 3, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    What a talent !! I loved all the photos,black and white have a different effect on the viewer. Loneliness prevails in all of them. Human interaction has become a thing of the past.The modern life seems scary to me.How heartwarming it was when people lived in close knit community sharing one an other ups and downs.Primitive life was far more beautiful than the present one !!

  3. Comment by James K on April 19, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Great photos. Interesting project description: global cities are not true communities. I’d like to argue that New York City is not all alienated cellphone zombies and struggling immigrants. We are the true melting pot of the world. Walk around the boroughs and you will see cultures intertwined, actually creating an incredibly unique community. How else can we explain the cultural and artistic impact this city has created?

  4. Comment by Maria Elena Marena on July 17, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Thanks to these photos I feel like I have met the soul of New York without never being there

  5. Comment by Michael Borheady on August 30, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    I like very much Viviana Peretti’s photos and the narrative that goes with it. I have been in New York City, mostly Manahatta, and I believe it has been absolutely a culture center, and an art capital of the world. However, as $$, has advanced New York and the whole world is being pushed into a large black hole covered by $$.

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