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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Artist turns to Coney Island to solve age-old mystery of human existence

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When Ahmed Barahona returned to San Francisco in November 2008, he found himself unemployed. He tried a few odd jobs — he waited tables, worked at an art gallery, even worked at a fast-food restaurant — but nothing lasted more than a few months. And when he stayed home to take care of his son, it was clear he needed to get back to the artistic life that had nurtured him.

That was when he stumbled across to a map of Coney Island, the amusement park where he grew up, and added it to a database he created in search of a new venue. After two years of artistic experiments, seven photographs of faceless faces that he titled “visitors to a people’s airport” began to appear on the beachside city’s crumbling buildings and storefronts.

More than 10,000 passersby filled out an online questionnaire to identify themselves as the “artist’s visitors.” “We wanted the photographs to be like the graffiti on abandoned buildings,” he said.

“Surrealistically you’re looking at bodies lying on the ground in a body scanner,” he said. “I just thought it looked so fascinating.”

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