An Endless Fascination

January 12th, 2010 § 0 comments

madonnaWho Shot Rock & Roll, on display through the 31st at the Brooklyn Museum, was surprisingly one of the best shows I saw in 2009. It was oddly underwhelming at the same time that it was deeply satisfying, in the same way that a chocolate covered strawberry never tastes as good as imagined, but in itself remains difficult to dislike. On the surface—despite the multitude of reviewers forced to discuss the deeper connections between rock & roll, celebrity and their constructed image, and the roll photography plays in mediating between the two—this show could be summed up as a crowd pleaser. While it is easy to roll our eyes at yet another Van Gogh or Dali exhibition, shows that appeal to our cultural understanding of “good art,” it is harder to make an argument against the type of images we simply can’t resist. Who Shot Rock & Roll goes deeper than this, however, not necessarily because the exhibition really is deeper, but because whatever the photographs lack the viewers make up for through the interest they bring to them.

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Midnight Mass with St. John the Divine

December 29th, 2009 § 0 comments

Generally speaking I admittedly don’t know very much about religion. I have not been inside very many American churches and have sat through even fewer services, but I do know something about European cathedrals. What religion I have studied came through art history where not only did we briefly study the most famous European basilicas, cathedrals, and churches, but by now I have also been inside most of them. While looking at biblical paintings can sometimes turn into a passive activity of visual monotony, something about the physical experience of being within a Gothic cathedral leaves a deeply unforgettable impression. Notre Dame, the Pantheon, St. Peter’s, San Marco, all have that same transcendent feeling you get from natural wonders, but impressively these are places we built. It is the overwhelming sense of human touch that the great cathedrals have that give them their feeling if divinity, or at least a sense of eternity.

cathedral

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Too Cold To Wander

December 14th, 2009 § 0 comments

Amsterdam’s Conclusion
amsterdam 1

The late arrival of winter seems to have brought with it more apprehension than appreciation. For those of us who live in places that have a winter regardless of when it chooses to show up, have forebodingly suspected that its late arrival this year suggests a late spring and a late summer next year. The mild temperatures, however, dropping into the 30s and 40s only in past few weeks, have also been wonderful. New Yorkers have been strolling the waterfronts around town with a leisure and enjoyment not normally possible in the post-fall months. A few weeks ago my sister-in-law and I were wandering Central Park in sunshine and dining outdoors. Taking advantage of the weather and my sparse free time, I have been completing one of the projects I began this summer, to document the entire length of Amsterdam Ave. All told it took a month of Sunday’s to cover roughly 149 city blocks. The last leg of the project was completed just in time, as my hands lost feeling and circulation it seemed unacceptable to let the last section of the shoot roll over into 2010.

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The World’s Oldest Subway Tunnel

December 9th, 2009 § 0 comments

Atlantic Ave Tunnel

Squeezing into a manhole, climbing down a shaky ladder and through a claustrophobic vertical tunnel was all much less disorienting than the first footstep down onto muddy dirt at the bottom. Actually only five or six feet below the street surface—I was half expecting to climb down into a dark, expansive, and slightly fantastic underground world—I was still amazed how a few feet had left Atlantic Ave, busy with traffic, pedestrians, storefronts, and a Trader Joe’s, so distant above. Picking my way carefully through a standing pool of water in a hallway leading toward the main cavern, heightened the bizarre feeling of being underground. The drastic climate change from a crisp, cold, and sunny afternoon to the dank, humid heaviness underground made it seem like you had to gasp for air. Underground it seemed humidity had replaced the cold, as my camera fogged up and dripped with condensation.

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Eccentric Soul Revue

November 17th, 2009 § 0 comments

It was a drunken and disheveled Syl Johnson I saw stumble about the stage at the Music Hall of Williamsburg Friday night, gesticulating a bit uncontrollably and singing with all his inebriated soul. Not exactly at the top of his game, but somehow he still made the show; just not exactly in the way you might expect.

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