But do these comic characters have real-life equivalents? Does the urban superhero really exist? United Photo Industries has set up an exhibition to answer these questions. The Brooklyn-born cooperative is dedicated to identifying, harnessing, and occasionally conjuring up unexpected exhibition opportunities. In (super)Heroes several photographers approached these characters as allegorical explorations of social issues. Contemplations on the true icons and meanings of heroism prompt the works to snake through issues of gender roles, discrimination and the human desire for power.

The entire exhibition is fixed to a fence surrounding the Manhattan Bridge anchorage in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Instead of white gallery walls, it uses the home and stomping grounds of legendary and real heroes. It brings the art out to the public.

Unconventional Superheroes

One of the photographers, Dulce Pinzon, shot immigrants working and living in New York dressed as superheroes. The Mexican-born photographer uses the contrast between the symbolic outfits and their mundane, workplace surroundings to point at holes in the traditional view of heroism. Pinzon sees the immigrant as the new blood that injects vitality into the city. Still, immigrants themselves work without recognition, unknown for their courage. By creating awareness and respect for the contributions that immigrant labor makes to our daily lives Pinzon shows us that without the help of any supernatural powers they are still able to give not only a contribution to the urban community, but also to help their families in their country of origin.

The project consists of 19 color photographs of Mexican immigrants dressed in the costumes of popular American and Mexican superheroes. The short text accompanying each image includes the name of the worker, their country of origin, and how much money they send to the communities they left behind. These short texts further highlight that these individuals are human, with human emotions, goals and hopes that prompt their heroism.

See all of Dulces Pinzon’s work in our photo gallery.