6 spring street
artist statements: :: Hey, Hot Shot! 2009 First Edition
My work lives in an illusive world. It's a world where questions are never fully answered and ghosts wander each room only offering us a glimpse into what their lives may have been. So much of my photography is an homage to the history and stories of my family in Costa Rica. I have collected so many experiences from them that I find myself approaching my camera and subjects, no matter where I may be, with the same hint of mystery and magic I grew up surrounded with. Magical realism is often used to describe Latin American fiction, I use it to describe what it felt like to grow up in a family where the dead were just as present as the living.
My photography explores the relationship between people and the land. I believe that very few people in the modern age have experienced unadulterated nature: I know I have not. The places we go to experience nature are built in order for us to experience it as safely and conveniently as possible. True nature would be too frightening or difficult to access for the majority of us.
The ephemeral portraits in Popular Attractions focus on crowds at sun-soaked fairgrounds, beaches, and baseball games capturing a sense of nostalgic Americana that many of us get lost in, but hardly look at with any distance. Crowds gather around the rodeo and the smoke of fireworks stirs up a halcyon haze over a grassy field -- all eyes are fixed in a stare at the spectacle before them. The images from Popular Attractions are focused on the people doing the staring. The viewer becomes a quiet observer who has snuck his way into the hullabaloo of American celebrations and rituals: a street parade, day at the beach, a backyard barbecue.
As a general theme I am interested in patterns of growth and I have always found it natural to look at things from a close perspective. I realize that by cropping my subjects closely I am not only becoming intimate with them, I am also abstracting them. By this treatment, familiar subjects become unrecognizable and require new investigation. The shape-shifting ambiguity made possible by the photographic lens resonates with my general sense of a world unseen by the naked eye, a world of possibilities.
Over the past months I have been stacking things and taking photographs of the various accumulations. The photographs catalog documents that surround me: books, papers, magazines, journals, sketchpads and photographs. Each stack represents something different - a passage of time, a collection, a history. The result is a series of lines, each representing a moment, a sedimentary record of growth.
Inspired by my family snapshots, these photographs are taken from a project that explores recreational spaces found in China. In 1958, at the beginning of The Great Leap Forward, when private ownership was banned, many existing parks were renovated and new parks were built all across China, many were renamed People’s Parks. Over the years, they became main focal points of cities, where families have outings and couples meet.
China is changing at a staggering pace. The economic miracle means that the Chinese are enjoying a much more affluent lifestyle. Shopping and the Internet have replaced bumper cars and Ferris wheels. With disuse, many of the People’s Parks have fallen into disarray. Millions of older Chinese grew up with these parks and have memories of time spent in them. Just like the parks, their memories are slowly fading away with time.
Farewell in Labrador
"Life was hard when the waters around here was full of fish, now that all the fish has gone, life is almost impossible."
The Cod Moratorium in 1992 pretty much killed the fishing industry, forcing many young people to leave and find jobs elsewhere. A government settlement program brought the Inuit and Innu nomadic cultures to the brink of extinction and alcoholism is killing what remaining hope there is. The departure of NATO forces spelled the end of the Air Base and the town that built up around it.
The Labrador coast provided a backdrop in which I explored and captured my own feelings for the landscape, its people and the memories they left behind. The connection between the images—landscapes, portraits, interiors and still-lifes—is emotional, eliciting feelings of isolation, longing and loss.