Ukraine born photographer Julia Gorodetskaya speaks about her love of Odessa and of the South Brooklyn, New York City neighborhood of Brighton Beach. Her work has previously appeared in The Odessa Review’s “Photographer in Focus” portfolio section.
When I was a kid, I lived with my mom in a big Communal apartment in the heart of Odessa on the corner of Lenin and Bebel Streets. Before the 1917 revolution the Lenin street was named after Odessa’s French governor Richelieu and Bebel Street was Jewish Street. At the time our huge “communa’ was just one big family apartment. But during my childhood it was a place where 9 families were gathered under one roof. All of us had separate rooms, but there was only one kitchen for all, as well as only one bathroom and one restroom. The people who lived there all sincerely hated each other – some openly, some secretly. But the kitchen always smelled of tasty food, and one could see the center of the city through the window and I was young.
Somehow “Little Odessa” constantly reminds me of that time in my life. When I miss home, I take a visit to Brighton Beach. I go to listen to what remains of the world of people who speak with the accent of my childhood. To see the sea (the locals do not call it an ocean, of course). To buy some tasty vegetables that one can not find in a regular American supermarket. And even to receive some not so polite rebuke (the reason for it being given do not matter). It is as if time had stopped there. I remember my first visit to Brighton Beach about 12 years ago. When I filmed every piece of “my New York”. I could have walked into to every expensive store on 5th Avenue and nobody would have asked me about my big camera bag. But here on Brighton, the salesman in a book shop demanded of me that “I leave that bag in the checkroom because I am not going to pay for what you are going to steal”.