sexta-feira, 25 de janeiro de 2008
this part comprises the introduction and the end of the text of the talk, and again had been edited.
The idea of bringing this talk about public art in Brasil comes with my perception of the difference in the context of doing it there and here. The difference is quite evident since Brasil is in a distinc position in the production of a system of art in comparison with US, and fortunately was able to develop a different point of view. There's no folclorism implicit in this fact or much of a national flavour, but in fact there is some identity that emerges from local specificities.
I use the term Public art very loosely, but I refer to a kind of art that is essencially urban produced in the streets, ephemeral, in general anonimous, and that relates more to the public in general than to the art world itself, but yet have strong connections with and derives from it.
The art system in Brasil has been continuously absorbing with no distinction the information from the outside. So from the start, this "absorbing" concept always been stimulated, since in general terms is there's not a genuine national language except incorporate other's. But maybe the only significance in the art of peripheral countries lays in the way it uses this information to create something new from that.
The public art In Brasil also derives from the activism that took place around 90's arrived with anti globalization movements also had its artistic counterpart. The emerging generation was influenced by the situacionism and was more interested in the public contact rather to the art system itself, quite often using institutional apparatus in order to criticize it.
So it's to say that this new generation had been creating a political way to act with the art environment, although its repertory is not new: happenings, performances, mob flash, interventions, public art, they all been set since at least the 60's. The works in collective were also a distinctive trace of this generation. In Brasil we can follow collective art development since the 60's and 70's, under dictatorial rulers. We witnessed an explosion in collective art in the 2000's.
The boundaries of art and activism is very slight. some - some would say that public art is not art, for not being inscribed in any art circuit others would say doesn't matter if you are interested in an art that can propose changes in society.
The media explored it quite well when frame it under "activism" tag, that could englobe almost anything that could happen on public space no matter the political issue involved.
The public art scene in Brasil mostly had some political precedents with it. After 20 years of dictatorship, the use of the street for expression of ideas- which was vigorously denied- had been gained again. The two major events of this era -the public act against the dictatorship in 1984 and the impeachment of president Fernando Collor in 1991- were only possible under extreme social pressure (and a lot of media influence too). After that slowly social groups could join together again. After a while the new generation of art collectives and collective practices began to spread, but not until the 2000's it came to the surface of public notoriety.
The artists began to promote their own interventions in public space and also new spaces and contexts were found without institutional interference. This made possible a more open approach to the subjects, but also made necessary from artists independent efforts, that were only possible with group work.
The official support for arts in Brasil is very hard to get. in visual arts you are confronted with a tax deduction support, that you as artist must apply, but only a few can get due to the exhausting bureaucracy and the fact that few supporters are kind to open their books to the tax scrutiny of the government. So in general this mechanism only works for big projects which already has both ends tied, when the project and the supporter already know each other. It is very controversial way to support, because by one hand it only helps the ones that already have a lot of influence to propose its projects and provide the big investors a good chance of making their own propaganda with public money. That's how mostly projects fund works.
Another way of getting public funding is applying to some public project where you are likely subject to be accepted or not depending if your project fits into the aims of the institution. In general the official funding are very bureaucratic, very restrictive in content, and very heavy about taxes.
The general idea is that art projects should not generate money to their creators, because is based in the idea that this is a great chance to expose their works and their names and consequently sell it as a product. When it comes to collective projects or that doesn't really have a "product" involved, in general the funding is denied.
Through the years we've been searching for solutions that could give us some material conditions without taking our freedom away. The Cultural institutions are a source of funding, but also it's necessary to know how to deal with them, as sometimes they don't like to have their names attached with sensitive or critical issues.
Private funds also carries this problem and not always like to give funds to any cultural project without having their logo in it.
Difficult but not impossible, as several groups and individuals take advantage of these funds to execute good projects indeed and it is responsibility of artistic community to stick together and make the pressure for their rights. More and more the network created by the artists work in order to spread the news and opportunities.
This barely explains one of the reasons why artists rather work on the street than apply to this public funding at first. If you have a good response for your art project in the street, it can help you to have your name known, and also you can create a product of it like videos, photos or any kind of document.
This and other features turns art in public space attractive to many artists.
In a large view, its possible to say that a parallel system has been created and institutions has been changing their ways to absorb it. Many groups had been working on the streets for only later puts this work into the galleries or institutions, still getting tied to it. Other were much more into media than art field to show their works.
But mainly, a network has been created by these artists, with the help from the Internet. This is where several ideas are discussed and action plans are established. These discussion groups in the web became very strong and several times subject to scrutiny of the government, police, marketing and media agents.
The tasks of finding a place to public art in Brasil are many. We live in a society that has a very poor side and some very rich one. Acting in streets is about to deal with this problems and differences. It's impossible to ignore poverty and social problems in São Paulo as it is impossible not to think about ecological problems there as well.
You can likely ignore it as art and call it activism. We rather think about the problems and try to respond to them. When it comes to the surface is more likely that touch other people that can help and take the discussion ahead. And if art is about making things visible, that is what the collective efforts in São Paulo are about.
For me and the people I've been working for some years now the streets are the most democratic place where you can show your opinion and we encourage people to join us in using it. When Cultural institutions come after us they know what to expect and in general we only associate with the ones that we want. This is the good thing about independent projects.
The Place fot the Public Art (part 4)
The group known as EIA (immersive ambiental experience) is in fact not just a collective of art but but also the name of a festival held annually by the group. Unlikely most of the art collectives in São Paulo, the group comprises a large number of non-artists in it, including there architects, journalists, poets, DJ's, designers, producers and eventually artists.
The festival is an open air experience in which artists and people in general are invited to take part. There is an open call for which the interested in send projects can apply. The festival is non profit and held with very little money. Each year the Festival change its format in order to make it more challenging for the group.
In the year of 2006 the EIA members split and each one went to find communities which they somehow relate and that could welcome the group for one day. Me and Felipe Brait contact the people from Diadema, an industrial city in the edge of São Paulo. As a teacher I became friend of a lot of people there, and knew mostly of the city. When contacting the people there, one guy told me about Sitio Joaninha, where he and his friends were running a theater workshop.
Sitio Joaninha officially is not named this way. Officially, Sitio Joaninha doesn't exists. It is a piece of land in the border of São Bernardo and Diadema between two water reservatories.
It was a piece of forest originally, which still can be seen in some areas. Until a few years ago the area was the city dump of Diadema. This attracted a massive population that would gather food there and recycled material. As the Sítio Joaninha was at the top of a water mine it should be absolutely forbidden any dumping there, as it would contaminate the whole water below.
So after years of usage the city dump was finally closed and put underground due to the risk of fires. Mostly of the people living at Sitio Joaninha moved to other areas. Only remained the poorest of them and the people that was actually living there, the oldest of them for more than 30 years. He told us that Joaninha is due to the name of the old owner of the land, an old woman that used to live in the forest and hasn't been seen for years.
The whole land is in her name, but been appropriated and sold to the people that lives there now. Officially is not allowed to built there, but there is a lot of houses there. As the place should not be habited, there's no official light or water system there, but the illegal electricity is all around and each two weeks a car from Diadema municipality brings water to the people.
The first person that give us shelter there was this man that been living there for around 30 years. He had been there since it was a forest, and breed pigs there. The first reunion about doing the project was on his sty.
The second person that would receive us was Pai Josias, that had an candomblé house there. Candomblé is a traditional Afro-American religion in Brasil. Pai Josias was one of the leaders of the community there. He was the one which could get water for the people there and would distribute food he get in the municipality each month. With Pai Josias we arranged a lunch for people from EIA and who else would appear and planned the whole day there. Our idea was to call attention to the place and put it in the map, pressing the public affairs of Diadema to play its role into Sitio Joaninha delicate situation.
We intended to do more a symbolic act than a proper effective act. We knew it from the start that the results would not be visible at that moment.
The day of the EIA in Sítio Joaninha was a messy one. We arrived around 30 people, in cars and some by buses that would take us around 1,5 km from there. It was raining, and some of the cars had a problem to climb the hill to get there.
Once everybody was there we were invited to enter in Pai Josias house, where there was a party for us. In the entrance blood of sacrificed animals and inside lots of ritualistic shows. that make a lot of people a bit sick actually, as they weren't really ready for that. That was a bit too strong even to me. Some of the people leave. That was the edge of an art experience with anthropological experience, it was like entering in a bubble.
We spend the day doing the projects there - which basically would include gluing posters and performances- during a kind of walk with music and flags in which everyone would be invited to take part.
One Maracatu player was invited, and we took hold of the instruments and followed him.
The interaction with the people from the place was the most touching part of the day. Like in many of the places that we make works, when there's children, they come near and want to take part.
The climax of our procession was the Radioactive performance. The Radioactive collective is one of the strong arms of EIA and their performance is always very noisy and disturbing. They took place of Sitio Joaninha's landscape and situation in a very strong way, with speeches about ecology and human rights. The reaction of the people was also very strong. They were identified with the political caos that lead people to live like that, and provoke a moment of reflection to us.
After we leave Sitio Joaninha the group had to stop to make their reflections.
The day there was one of the strongest experiences of the group, for good and for bad, and we had to recover from that.
The history of Sitio Joaninha still waits for its turn. The EIA festival could call some attention to the place, but it was very difficult to get effective actions the people need, for several reasons. Pai Josias confirmed his position of community leader and appeared in the papers, which make possible more people take contact with Sitio Joaninha reality.
And for a While we had no notice of there. Just a few days ago we've been informed that pai Josias had died in a heart attack. People from Diadema was after EIA to get images and films where he could appear, because apparently there's no filmed images from him, except EIA's. We hope this can bring again attention to Sitio Joaninha's situation, and that it can help the people from there.
more about EIA at:
and related links
Prestes Maia and São Paulo Collectives
The new generation of public art in São Paulo begin to take shape after some groups begin to act together. The turning point and most important long term event for collective art in São Paulo was the association of art collectives and individual artists to the homeless movement based in center São Paulo.
It is a long journey which begins in 2003 with the occupation of two buildings by homeless families. The number of the occupants although changed during the time ranged between 1500 and 2000 people. in the only census actually made there, it was counted 468 families.
The building, two towers of an old factory, was left abandoned and closed since 1980.
The homeless movement that took place there were able to put light and water systems in both buildings and clean the space.
The judgement of the case was very unclear, and the homeless were told to leave. The old owner is a very powerful man in São Paulo and although the taxes of the building hasn't been paid for more than 20 years, and the building was left, won the cause.
One of the reasons for that was because the whole area was ready to a multimillionaire gentrification planned by the city government and sponsored by the World Bank. The idea of expelling the poor people living there was made clear by the interviews of the housing secretary. Since then, the police were given special powers to arrest and act with violence against the people of the area. The media as a whole also had choose the side of the private propriety.
But the former owner of the building could not get the building back because he failed in giving support to the people to leave according to the law, and the amount of people were considered hazardous to the police handle in case of conflict.
So the occupants were allowed to stay until a solution for the case was found.
When the first artists started to visit the Prestes Maia building it was in very bad shape. It was only known by the policial pages reports. The homeless movement - MSTC, accepted the proposal from one of them to create an art show there.
In December 2003, a big art show in support of the families took place in Prestes Maia. For that 120 artists attended the invitation and used the place and interacted with the people living there during three weeks. In the last weekend, visitation was open and for the first time people in general could enter the building and take contact with the reality there. For the first time also, Prestes Maia was covered by the media in the cultural pages.
After big criticizing ranging from self-promotion of the artists and paternalism, what could turn into a big project simply did not launched. Only a few artists remained working there, without big achievements.
In June 2005 the MSTC called the organizers again. Prestes Maia was in danger again. They've been notified by police force that they were about to leave in a month. This time a wider range of professionals was about to help, and mainly by the help of attorneys, Prestes Maia was again able to survive.
As the movement around Prestes Maia begun to get stronger the gentrification politics in the area got stronger too. The supporters of Prestes Maia tried to help other social movements in city center that was being desarticulated by the city government. In one of the buildings to be left, a pacific resistance was planned. Several people were injured and tortured by the police. Several were under arrest and processed. The people violented were mostly black and poor. The others amongst them were advised not to get involved. The images went broadcast and for the first time the means of the policial troops against civils in central Sao Paulo were questioned.
After several attempts to contact the habitation secretary failed, it became clear that dialogue was impossible.
At this time, Prestes Maia had been adapted to became an improvised cultural center. Each weekend people would gather there, and attend to theater, cinema and music. after a while the people from Prestes Maia started to create their own parties and attractions.
In March 2006 some of the São Paulo collectives were invited to take part in the Havana Biennial show, and tried to organize in São Paulo and Habana a show that could connect both. The result was a very important event to Prestes Maia -that again was in danger and due to public pressure could get some breath again-, and nothing in Habana. They were not able to send a representative there.
The city government held a cultural festival to attract people for the new gentrified area, and some of the artists and collectives linked with Prestes Maia were invited to take part, and this also bring some tension about the role of the artists in the gentrification process, and in other hand it was the only chance for some to show their work and get some money from it.
As a collective effort it was compiled and edited a book about civil rights in the city center of São Paulo.
The city mayor confronted with the accusations replied that art collectives and intellectuals "don't represent the people".
With another collective effort, mainly by some of the building people, a library was organized. This give space to several media coverage, and give credibility to the movement.
Much with the municipality pressure, the second judgement of Prestes Maia, again give the cause against the occupants, at the same time dispossessing the former owner from the building. A big pressure was put into the mayor as several politicians, actors and even religious leaders been there. The president of the nation itself with partnerships raised funds and get houses for most of the people from Prestes Maia in a corner of the city. The mayor went personally to the building to give the official announcement. Finally people could leave Prestes Maia with a place to live.
The building were desapropriated and locked again. It cannot be demolished because it stands over a subway route. Its doors were cemented and no one knows what is going to happen with it.
The results for the people involved apart of the residents of the Prestes Maia was not evaluated yet.
Harsh accusations over the artists involved has been made by the official art system and even by themselves. The people involved with Prestes Maia more than once were accused being opportunists and hypocrites.
read more and photo credits :
The Place for the Public Art (part 2)
In 2006 the group Esqueleto Coletivo, one of the groups that been following the Prestes Maia and the whole process of gentrification in São Paulo had access to the maps of the surveillance cameras in the city center if São Paulo. The cameras has been installed since beginnings of 2006 according with officials reports from the Social Assistance Secretary the aim was to 'repress the street vendors in the city center'.
The whole system would ' help to find the leaders amongst these vendors and punish them' and eventually 'would help the people that live in the streets'. No registered film of the police operations is allowed, since its the own police that take care of the system. Severe abuses of the policemen in central São Paulo has been related, but even though are recorded in tape, no access to the information registered is given to individuals..
Tabata Costa, grupo Alerta!
With the original maps, and subsequent cameras found, the group could trace the area that was under vigilance, and find out that it was the same area that was in the aim of the gentrified plans of the government.
Mostly of the areas in the city wanted to implement the system, but only in those areas they were put.
The group imagined what would happen if at the same time several suspicious actions took place under the surveillance cameras in the city center. does the police would have enough force to check it out everything that was going on there? Would they really care?
The group join forces with another group -called EIA, and organized an open call in which everyone was invited to take part in the action. the cameras would be distributed amongst the people and each one was free to do their own suspicious action.
The idea was to decentralize the action in order to make it happen in several places at the same time.
Using surveillance cameras in art projects is not new. Since we started to research about the issue, the stronger references were the group Surveillance Cameras Players - that may be known to most of you.
The project was not supposed to oppose the cameras itself, but to call the attention for its presence, in one hand and try to get more discussion about the uses of the images captured, since it is not free access. In several occasions policial abuses were reported and surely captured with the cameras but obviously the images could never been seem for the simple fact it is kept by the own municipal guard.
So, in general, people admit the surveillance cameras is good for the city, but is not aware that their access to it is denied.
The action was covered by media and was succeeded. Around 30 cameras captured at the same time the suspicious acts. Pamphlets and lot of talk with the people in the street as usual. Some police around but no confrontation. Other collectives made similar "suspicious behaviour " on other parts of Brasil, and a collective that was in Costa Rica made the action there too. Like always much talk in the Internet followed the intervention itself, especially because it was pretty much on the papers.
Viviana, do Rio de Janeiro
The media coverage tried pretty much to cover the history of artivism, in order to make context with the action, which had a reaction for the collectives.
The municipal guard did not answer the release of the images, and only few months later two major incidents including the municipal guard took place in the city center, and left several people hurt: one in a Christmas party of the homeless, in which two aldermen were hurt and sprayed with pepper gas, and in other a festival of the Municipality where several people get hurt due to policial excess in a rap event.
The images officially never been released, and in the amateur filming the scenes are strikingly brutal.
The Place for the Public Art (part 3)
The city of São Paulo witnessed a great change in its look when a few months ago all kinds of advertisements were considered illegal, except a few that judicially could stand. The idea to remove the bulk of outdoors and publicity is part of a big plan to establish new rules for publicity, which of course will be very profitable for the municipality. the only publicity allowed in the city is the ones in municipal bus stops and subways.
The radical decision was took without much or no dialogue in the society, and took everybody by surprise. Not only the irregular or excessive propaganda had to be put off, but even small tabulets. Suddenly everything was prohibited without distinction.
Too much corruption in past administration had led the city to turn into a tremendous mess. No regulation about the use of public space had turn São Paulo into one of the visually most polluted cities in the world. The ones that caused more damage was illegal advertisements of buildings. Placed in wrong places they were cause of countless accidents. The reaction to this kind of advertisement first take place by individuals, in general by vandalizing them. those ads were totally illegal. It usually was placed on Friday night, when the municipality fiscals were off for the weekend, and would be pulled out on Sunday night. it was a tacit agreement between the fiscals and the advertisement agencies.
The group EIA (immersive ambiental experience) planned a urban exhibition that would use the actual tabulets as support. the tabulets were made of light wood and was attached to light posts with a wire. The idea was to call a large number of individuals and call them to bring their own tabulet - took from the streets- with his intervention.
The EIA also with support of Atelier Coringa (another collective) would provide tabulets for those who had no conditions to take them at the streets. For this, we took two big cars and went after the tabulets. there were hundreds of them. in only one avenue we get most of them, about 100 illegal tabulets.
The day before at Atelier Coringa's studio people were invited to make their own intervention on the tabulets.
On Sunday we took all the tabulets to a square where they were shown as in an art fair. It was a very beautiful day with a lot of participation from the people of the area, that was endangered by rising taxes and speculation on their lands. this provide them support for their own cause also.
The show was covered by news paper, and after this day the tabulets were taken to Prestes Maia occupation, where it was exposed for a while and after that people could use the wood in several ways.
The disappearance of the tabulets were very disturbing for the tabulet scheme. the next weeks after that there were much less tabulets, and some of them were attached with chains to trees and posts. in less than a mouth after that, the tabulets were declared officially illegal and forbidden by the municipality. Actually they were illegal before, but too much attention on then make them very evident.
The laws forbidding all publicity in the city came around an year and half after that event.
more Splac! at:
Madison Square Garden is so big that you risk simply don't notice it.
Yes, I heard that: despite of being a true legend for the ears of people like me (that have lots of recordings of live concerts there), Madison Square Garden is regarded like one of the worst buildings in NY. Of course this is a very provocative and nostalgic view, but of course I had to see it with my own eyes.
The most bizarre shows on earth took place at MSG
First of all, the MSG carries a really functional architecture. It is not intended to be more than a big place to hold any event intended to carry on there. It is so big that is almost impossible to take photos of it, consisting in a cylindrical building and a very high tower, big enough to cover a whole block close to Times Square. The Madison Square Garden as we know today was completed in 1968, after much controversial plans, and that's one of the reasons for the 'love-it-or hate-it' reaction lies in its site.
Of course it's impossible to see any sky behind the actual building
The root of all the controversy that fills lots of discussions forums is the fact that MSG was build to replace the charming Penn Station, that was a true beauty for so many, but it was in bad shape. At the 50's it was planned a big change in the area, and the idea of bringing the MSG there prevail over others. The station still works there, underneath the arena.
Penn Station, which building was replaced for the Madison Square Garden
The Madison Square Garden itself has changed locations for three times before reach its actual place. It's been receiving any kind of events since circus and sports events until musical concerts. It is by far the most popular arena in the city, and is the self claimed the most famous in the world.
One of the past incarnations of Madison Square Garden
It sounds very unreliable that Madison Square Garden comes to be demolished or change its place again, so there's no much room for discussion now. The place which it stands is a very 'build' one, and i believe is very difficult to change anything there. Actually there's no much room for big changes in Manhattan, it seems. There are areas being renovated like Chelsea or some areas at Lower East End, but the real building business looks to be happening in Brooklyn more than anywhere. But still there are people that hopes one day that big ugly building will be removed with no trace behind.
My friend Isadora sent a link for an article on a journal in Argentina about the New York Subway, and as I was realizing that few cities in the world (maybe only Paris, i guess) has been so fetichized as NY. Everything on it has been subject to world scrutinize. Isadora also send me this link for the famous song from Duke Ellington (Take the A train), in the voice of Ella Fitzgerald.
The subway from New York was started in the very beginnings of XX century taking the London subway as a model. At that time New York was home of crowds of immigrants which would arrive everyday from Ellis and would pack up Lower East End. The subway was intended to give more room for the people to move through the city, and it was really succeeded. Since then the subway took the city to a new level of modernization, and some would say it unblocked any rigid social system that could still remain. The subway is a very democratic way to move, all can take it no matter who you are in the social scale (anyway I've heard the same about coca-cola).
As I have all this floating in my head, I decided to take the A train to Sugar Hill, in Harlem where Duke Ellington lived. This was the area of the black elite in NY at that time. Maybe it is until now somehow. As it is said in the first link, this music has been created in 1939 by Billy Strayhorn a musician that was was following the instructions to get to Duke's house.
- You must take the A Train
- To go to Sugar Hill way up in Harlem
- If you miss the A Train
- You'll find you've missed the quickest way to Harlem
- Hurry, get on, now, it's coming
- Listen to those rails a-thrumming (All Aboard!)
- Get on the A Train
- Soon you will be on Sugar Hill in Harlem
But reality is quite different from the legends, as my long stroll through Harlem and the Bronx could showed me. The A train is not the cutest one in town, but like all other has a kind of standard. From the people round me 7 in 10 had I-pods or musical devices. Even the poorest of the guys was listening to music or playing some game. No wonder, like everywhere in New York, the subway is absurdly noisy. I think people want to protect themselves into their own little electronic worlds. When we get to 125th I leave the train and went on walking. Sugar Hill is not dotted on the map, but is said to be around the 125th and the 155th. Although the first scene I saw on street was not a good one - policemen arguing with people on the street- it looked quite calm in comparison to downtown. There's a park, there's the university, which are always signs of good life. It is somehow like leaving the city, or like a smaller city. the features are more like small buildings, residential surroundings, mixed with some commercial centers.
The Harlem look more homogeneous to me, with massive afro-american population.
The Bronx is much more mixed and vibrant, with its afro-latin-oriental population dividing a huge area in the map. At first it looked a bit frighten to me, as I arrive through the bridge over a highway just in front of the massive Yankees Stadium and got into an area for heavy traffic, so I had to walk into it until get to kind of a commercial center - that resembled like downtown Brooklyn. It was not easy until I get there. You know i was somewhat lost (of course) and wasn't sure what would come ahead. But walking a little further I found out Bronx is sort of a place for small buildings and residential spot. It really feels like we left downtown behind and went home. Although there is a lot of commerce, it can't be compared with downtown and this is also an area for large parks, so I decided going to 180th street to walk on the park. The trains here are much more over the ground and outside the tunnels, so I could take a look onto the roofs of Bronx meanwhile. I realize some more specific communities here like afro-muslins Sudan like women, afro-latin guys and girls, sort of Indian and Pakistan people over there too, not the tourist like people in downtown, but much more like settled people living there. Although I went until very far into the city, I haven't found the signs of degradation which are so common in the large cities peripheral areas. Even in it's edges, the city is still wealthy. After a while I took the 5 train back, and could see all that again, the train, the noise, the rooftops, people with their devices, and as the train went back underground I would even close my eyes and eventually be in my interior world again, while the train woulda shake on until Union Square.
I've found some interesting data about demography in NYC here. The city is largely distinct of any other city of USA in its ethnicity, that makes it a big puzzle of mainly nations in the world.
I will let the census speak for itself, thou.
44% of the population was white.
25.3% of the population was black or African American,
11.6% was Asian
0.4% were American Indian.
17% belonged to some other race
1.6% of New Yorkers belonged to more than one race.
The New York City metropolitan area is home to the largest Jewish community outside Israel.In 2002, an estimated 972,000 Ashkenazic Jews lived in New York City and constituted about 12% of the city's population.The Jewish presence in New York City dates to the 1600s when a Jewish community relocated from Recife seeking freedom of worship (ops!).
As of the 2000 census 255,536 New Yorkers reported German ancestry.
As of the 2000 census 213,447 New Yorkers reported Polish ancestry.
The Romanian community of New York is the largest in United States and North America, with unofficial figures showing 200,000 Romanians in New York.
It is also home to nearly a quarter of the nation's South Asians, approximately 275,000 persons from India (226,587), Pakistan (34,310), Bangladesh (18,825), and Sri Lanka (1,094), and comprise a combined 3.5% of New York City's population.
The largest African American community of any city in the country, at over 2 million within the city's boundaries.
NYC has about 800,000 Puerto Ricans and has the largest Puerto Rican population outside of Puerto Rico.
Another historically significant ethnic group are Italians, who emigrated to the city in large numbers in the early twentieth century, New York City is home to the largest Italian population in the US. New York metropolitan area is home to 3,372,512 Italians, which is the third largest concentration in the world after Milan and Rome metropolitan areas.The Irish also have a notable presence; one in 50 New Yorkers of European origin carry a distinctive genetic signature on their Y chromosomes inherited from Niall of the Nine Hostages, an Irish high king of the fifth century A.D.
As of the 2000 census 420,810 New Yorkers reported Irish ancestry.