Urban neighborhoods that serve as homes to multiple immigrant communities can have a stoic quality to them. This isn’t always the case, but cultures that are vibrant unto themselves can take on more of a remote cast when coming into ongoing mutual contact. There is a level of communication, of connection, that entrenched cultural distance fails to afford. This is true of spoken language and body language alike. In a dense city, such myriad disconnections can result in faces that are doubly blank: failing to read others and resisting being read. You may see a Russian Orthodox priest eating a burrito, or a sushi chef checking out Hollywood blockbusters at the neighborhood library; these individuals are, however, members of groups that live alongside each other and, yet, apart from each other.
This doorbell is from the front gate to a multi-unit apartment building in just such a neighborhood. The doorbell bears the aspect of a place that has more urgent things to be attended to than its outward appearance. The doorbell buttons have long since been bleached by the elements of their associated apartment numbers. Presumably the units run in descending columns from left to right. Presumably as well, the one button that lacks a label was at some point replaced — due to wiring complexities or sufficient landlord laziness, for which there is an admittedly low threshold — by the larger plastic device to the left. It stands there with a simple message for anyone who tries to catch its gaze: “I have things to get done; announce yourself, or move along.”An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.