February 2, 2004

New York Life: An Exhibition and Open Invitation

On Sunday the 29th of February, I will be showing New York Life: Images After the Fall, an exhibition of photographs at Harlow's Gallery in Laguna Beach, California. The opening reception will be held from 12 noon to 5. All are welcome to attend. Clicking on the New York Life link above will take you to the web site for the show with the location, some background and sample images. Those with fast connections and a need to see really big images can look Here.

The exhibition itself will run through March. It will be a small selection from the over 10,000 photographs I took of New York City in 2002. My reasons and rationale for such obsessive behavior are contained within the statement below drawn from the exhibition:

"When a man has lived a long time with a city and then decided to leave her, it seems best to make a record before departing. Otherwise, for all the years he has lived with her, all he will have left will be the shards of moments and not the mosaic complete.

The archives he retains will, invariably, be merely personal -- clippings from the local papers, a box of business cards, filched matchbooks, a sheaf of menus, random pay stubs, a well-thumbed Rolodex, and a few albums filled with pictures of friends and acquaintances remembered with varying degrees of accuracy. And his snapshots.

They will be snapshots of his personal celebrations; the birthdays, anniversaries, shared summer houses, days in the park and nights on the town. He’ll be in some of them. Friends will proliferate in others. And the city will persist, implied, either in the background or intruding in the middle distance; like the air, unnoticed until absent. When you leave her, this is what you will carry away. It will fit in a medium-sized cardboard box. We’ve all packed this box. Mine was labeled, “New York.”

Your memory of the city will fade long before the snapshots in the box. True, they fade slowly -- pushed into the mist by other days and other scenes -- but fade they do. And so you will find yourself pretending you know what she looked like, and how you felt, when you lived with her through all those white nights and bright days.

But it will be a lie; one that will grow more elaborate and comfortable as the distance dissolves the experience. In time, you won’t even recognize it as a lie. Just as an old love remembered anew can appear in warmer tones than the last days that drove you apart, so too a city can rise in radiance as the memory, always protective of the self, tints in some false rose of dawn or the sham melancholy of twilight.

Knowing this, I resolved to record her as I knew her without sham or falsity.

Beginning in early May of 2002 and ending at around ten in the evening of November 9, 2002, I kept a detailed photographic record of what we were like and how we lived in New York in that shaky first year of our unsought new era. During those months I took over 10,000 shots. Of these I destroyed most. In the end, I kept about 3,000 that struck me as worth preserving for one reason or another.

To show you, to make you see what I saw during my walks around the city in those months, would take a thousand images and an iron constitution. Instead here are a few. I’ve selected them because they seem, in aggregate, to give a reasonable impression of my last days in New York, the city I had lived in and loved for the better part of 30 years.

It is said that “There are eight million stories in the naked city,” but that’s another lie. There are, if you could read the secret hearts of New Yorkers, eight million stories squared in that city. In these rooms is a very short version of just one of them.

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

Posted by Vanderleun at February 2, 2004 7:58 PM | TrackBack
Save to del.icio.us