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 Rorschach Island

October 12th, 2009 § 2 comments

“The island is one-fifth the size of Central Park, and more than twenty times the size of Bryant Park. It is less than half a mile from Manhattan, and even closer to Brooklyn.”

governors_island

Governors Island was touted this spring in everything from the nytimes to the new york magazine as the cities newest summer destination—the great “undiscovered” location for all summer activities. After spending a recent Saturday wandering the perimeter and interior of the island, I discovered that it feels much more like a historical ghost town than the most popular location citywide to spend a sunny weekend. The islands history makes it sound like one of those hand-me-downs no one wants to wear and keeps passing onto younger siblings and cousins. This summer the island was finally passed down to the public. Governors Island—where no governor has ever lived—is an extremely odd mix of bits and pieces left behind from the numerous different hands of ownership it has passed through since it was first inhabited in 1613, and while it does not function yet as the urban park it is trying to become, it is aesthetically fascinating because of its oddities.

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Just Visiting—A Farewell

August 7th, 2009 § 0 comments

Rode in on the Greyhound but I’ll be walkin’ out if I go
I was just passin’ through must be seven months or more

There are a number of song lyrics that lament about being stuck somewhere, someplace, that you just can’t leave. It is never really the circumstances that are to blame, though a lack of money, purpose, and motivation might factor in, but place itself that catches hold and never lets go. We all can commiserate. I remember being stranded temporarily in the Spanish desert, and feeling that rising desperation as a lack of sleep muddled my comprehension, and as a successful departure seemed more and more impossible to negotiate. Picturing the type of places described in such songs, I see movies concerning small towns, deserted and unlucky in their abandonment—High Noon, Don’t Come Knocking, Northfork—where people kill the town, or the town slowly kills the people. None of these songs or films, however, really describe why certain places are seen as inescapable. Birthplaces and hometowns can be understood this way, as even when you leave them they come uninvited behind you, but not many places can exert this same kind of influence. Wandering Richmond—this past weekend as well as during my visit in April—I wondered if the past, so strongly creeping over the present in this southern capital, lulling you back into a time already lived, could be an explanation for certain place’s sleepy addiction.

cafe

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Amsterdam Avenue: 42nd to 103rd

July 22nd, 2009 § 2 comments

I have great faith in remembered images, as visual impressions tend to define my reality, though I fully acknowledge that remembered images, and certainly my remembered images, are often more unreliable and subjective than memories. The premise of many artworks, arguments, songs, stories, etc., however, must be based on real events that have been misremembered to such an extent that they have become separate stories. Many of my series have been based on a misremembering of some kind, but because inspirations are not obligated to follow the rules of accuracy, I enjoy investigations based on little more than a mental picture, a conglomerate of different memories, that I am completely convinced I didn’t create.

new york city

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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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