Greville St Bookstore


December 13, 2009, 1:12 am
Filed under: Art

New York City Museum of Complaint
Steidl, $95

The New York City Museum of Complaint is a collection of 132 letters written to the Mayor of New York between 1751 and 1969. Selected from the municipal archives and presented chronologically, the letters address a range of issues from dead animals in the street to swindles, capitalism, and corruption. From civil rights, adventuresses, bad luck, and broken hearts to noise and other people. These are the communiqués of dissatisfaction over the course of a city’s evolution.

The strength of this collection lies in its striking ability to capture the spirit of the city as defined by its critics and crusaders. New York City has long been perceived as a place where personal expression flourishes. These civic documents are historical embodiments of the language, wit and energy that helped forge the City’s reputation. From the passionate defense of street musicians to dedicated battles with drycleaners, police officers, pushcart peddlers and hooligans, a chorus emerges that articulates the challenges and inherent absurdity of metropolitan life.

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