Video Review: Natalie Merchant "Carnival"

In black-and-white, Natalie Merchant walks in downtown New York City, camera in hand. She takes a photograph of a man, his viewfinder aimed at her. Against a building, a male photographer takes a photo while a police officer watches the street.

She sees a man sweeping water on the street and takes a photo of a photographs hanging in a store window. She passes a souvenir shop and turns her head at the t-shirts and postcards on sale. By a store window, a woman fixes her hair. Seizing an opportunity, she adjusts her camera. However, she misses and gets the woman walking to the corner instead.

A wealthy senior citizen woman peers into the store window. Merchant leans against the side and takes a picture. She sees a businessman standing outside by a door.

She walks past a fair and takes a picture of one of the rides between the fence. Two men sitting on a stoop look at her. A man smokes a cigar. Posters promoting her album are plastered on a building. A little girl watches coins slide over a table. She walks into a convenienceĀ store and takes a picture of the American flag hanging over the counter.

The car wash marquee sign blinks. She takes a picture of a man holding a suitcase as he waits on the curb. On a bench, she takes a picture of a woman sipping on her coffee. She asks a man wearing an elephant nose if she can take his picture. She takes a selfie as she stands by the cabs. A little boy rides his bike in circles on the pavement. Men do yoga on the sidewalk and in the park. A man pulls on the fence.

She passes by a strip club and stops at a sex shop, where she takes a picture of a man opening the curtain into the video section. A young woman leaves, an employee of the sex shop and takes her photo. She rides in the subway and looks at the city.

A couple kisses. She takes a picture of a man holding his arms and one leg up in the air. The Super Loop is suspended upside down. A woman drinks from the water fountain. She takes a picture of two chefs and two friends talking.

A children’s ride moves in a circle as a parent watches.

Rating: 5/5

Natalie Merchant is interested in people’s stories. Through her photographs, she would like people to get to know them. Most people would dismiss the people as perverts or bitter. However, she sees them as human.

She travels to the seedy area of town, with the sex shops and peep shows. Men walk through the curtain, free and unashamed, knowing no one will venture into the neighborhood. A photograph of a young woman, forlorn and used, seems disappointed in her life. Her frown is the story, explaining each hardship in her life and breaking apart every dream.

Hopeful little kids ride their bicycles and visit the fair, their entire lives ahead of them. An older man stays off to the side, behind a little boy, discouraged by his current events going on his life. He was once like the little boy, who believed New York was the saving grace, giving security to dreams. However, none of it turned out to be true.

Some men have realized peace later in life. They do yoga in the park, concentrating and speaking to no one. After watching several classes in the afternoons on the way to the coffee shop, the men have the yoga moves memorized and can do them on their own.

Director: Melodie McDaniel Year: 1995


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Pam Avoledo Administrator
Pam Avoledo spends her time binge-watching classic teen dramas and stands firm in her pro-Leyton stance. She also received her journalism degree in 2006 from Oakland University. Her work has been published in the White Wall Review, Sledgehammer Lit & 45 Magazine.

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