Out of the Trunk

April 22nd, 2009 § 1 comment

twins

For an archive that caters primarily to fashion, lifestyle, travel, and celebrity based imagery, which is then sold to the type of magazines owned by Conde Nast, I was surprised to find that the archive of Seydou Keïta is among our recent acquisitions. Born in Mali, he was a self-taught photographer who specialized in portraits of his family, friends, and neighbors beginning in the 1940’s. It is difficult to photograph people and places that are steeped in a history of photographic exploitation, but his perspective appears authentic. The constructed quality of the images and the subjects posed expressions reminds me of James Van Der Zee, the notorious manipulator. I am curious how accurate these portraits are in showing a slice of Malian life at that time.

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Ghosts & Sentinels

April 13th, 2009 § 1 comment

I am still amazed to discover daylight to spare after coming home from work, as it seems a magical trick performed by the promise of the warmer weather to come. Arriving home from work recently, I decided it was the perfect evening for a dusk meander.

Inwood

It seemed to be a warm, tranquil night that many were taking advantage of, and it was mostly couples I passed as I followed the winding, upward path toward the Cloisters. Benches were filled with secluded, though openly visible, couples waiting for the sunset or kissing and ignoring the sunset instead. I suppose when you are alone it is natural to pay more attention than usual to those around you. Shrunken elderly ladies in twos and threes slowly plodded along the garden paths, and a few families with children played on the flat and somewhat green lawns. Men ran or walked alone with their dogs, most circled so that as I stood and watched the sun disappear, its yellow reflection lingering in the river, I saw the same pairs of man and beast pant past.

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Pier 94—The Beautiful People

March 10th, 2009 § 0 comments

I wonder who thought art fairs were a good idea: investors, collectors, rich folk shopping for a new painting for the dinning room, museum directors, or gallery owners? It was certainly not thought a great idea by the makers of art, even those egotistical enough to dream of being the highlight of such a gathering of stuff, would never call it an ideal space. I could not help but wonder about this as I wandered through the Armory Show this past weekend. I was curious about the event in general, I wanted to see how it compared to Art Basel, for though I guessed it would contain many of the same galleries and artists, in the post-economic meltdown I thought the vibe, perhaps translating into the overall aesthetic, might be different—more subdued and less extravagant?

pier 94

I was relieved that this event was less costly than Basel, students could enter the maze of portable white walls for a somewhat reasonable price, the ticket included admission to both piers (92 & 94), but one was more than sufficient to become completely visually overwhelmed. I wondered as I wandered how the spaces were chosen and how the galleries chose their representative artists. Judging from the odd juxtapositions and the decorative, tasteful quality of the art I made my guesses. This lead to my amazement that someone, somehow, somewhere, decided this was a good idea.

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Exploring Winter

February 8th, 2009 § 0 comments

For me it seems almost typical to look for what is missing in places. My latest images, in the vein of the missing, have revolved around looking for “nature” in the “city,” where there ought to be very little evidence of it. I have been interested in this seemingly cliché idea, however, because I live so near the last “forest” areas of Gotham. Inwood is surrounded by wandering, forest-like paths that are intermixed with recreational parks—baseball diamonds, playgrounds, dog parks—and bounded on one side by the waterfront, with all that riverfronts usually entail. Walking down Broadway everyday I have neighborhood shops on my right, and the inviting gates of Ft. Tryon Park on my left.

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Throughout the winter it has been amusing to watch how the dropping leaves of fall, followed by the rain, slush, and snow of February, has changed the landscape of Broadway. My interest in the snow is an interest in how we live, or live without, a presence of nature in the city. The appearance of winter seemed to render useless the outdoor activities that gave a sense of life and community to the streets. When I first visited Inwood last summer children were playing with water guns in the park, older couples sat sweating on the benches lining Broadway, and I imagine all the places I have recently discovered were used with the same enthusiasm. Large flocks of geese have taken over the baseball diamonds, the steps leading to the top of Inwood Hill Park are covered with layers of melting ice, the playgrounds left soggy and empty. Winter effects city life but it becomes integrated as quickly as anything else; salt and rain boots appear on the sidewalks, lost gloves and broken umbrellas become the common trash, and children go sledding instead of playing on the wet swings.

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Another Side of Broadway

February 1st, 2009 § 0 comments

It is amazing how a question as simple as “what are you working on” can have such a devastating effect. At the height of productivity it always felt as though no matter how much I made, how many hours I worked, it was never quite enough. While it seemed that semesters and deadlines were in disharmony with the rhythm of thinking ideas through—some of us think about the same ideas for years, and even after don’t get much farther than entertaining different facets of those ideas—the pace of life also feels offbeat. Where one was too fast, the other is too slow. Asking J. Wax how his studio work was going along with teaching and traveling, he said good, but slow. I now understand his meaning, just as I have come to appreciate the difference between slow and a standstill; it might take me twice as long to build a body of images, but at least a body is being built.

arch

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