new york

Thoughts On My New York Trip

Saying that New York is busy and noisy and hectic in every way (at least for people coming from not-so-big towns as me) wouldn't probably surprise anybody.  It's interesting experience though. New York is like no other big city where I've been and I've been to some. I walked around a lot in Manhattan and enjoyed the vibe. I'm not much into major tourist attractions, although, of course, I couldn't resist the view from Empire State Building.

Here are my photography related thoughts and impressions in random order (I'm not yet talking about Photoville - that'll be a separate post):

I was really sad to learn the International Center of Photography was closed. As per the reviews they have very interesting collection and exhibitions.

Same goes for Aperture Gallery and several other I planned to visit - this time of the year seems to be the vacation period for galleries. I spent some time at Aperture bookshop though, a lot off interesting stuff there. I was about to buy Stephen Shore book (I like his street work), but decided it's too big and heavy to fly it over the Atlantic in my suitcase.

The first gallery that was actually open was Howard Greenberg Gallery which hosted Dave Heath and Brassai exhibitions. Black and white pictures, top of the line framing, museum glass etc. Having had several exhibitions myself I can now see details I couldn't before - anything from the width of the matte to the color of the walls to the even lightning. Valuable experience. And I liked the pictures too, although having looked at 60+ exhibitions during the couple of days it's very hard to say much about the photos. Classics.
(I remembered this later) Brassai's pictures were his drafts, showing the original photo with his crop marks - on one hand it was interesting to look at the original framing and how he cropped them later, yet on the other hand - would he be happy to present the drafts? I wouldn't, this is some kind of collector's wet dream, making the pictures unique, but not adding to aesthetics.

The next one was Lee Friedlander and Pierre Bonnard at Pace/MacGill Gallery. Perfected installation again, but when it comes to pictures, I remember Lee Friedlander by very different work. So the pictures of trees and bushes were not something I could easily connect to, sorry about that. Maybe we have too much of that in Estonia.

Sidenote: What was a little bit unexpected is how hard it is to find the galleries. If you're expecting beautiful street-level display, you're wrong. You have to know where you're going, have the addresses and maps ready and even then you probably have to ask from the reception on the ground floor where exactly is the gallery you're looking for. There were some street-level galleries with banners outside at Chelsea, too, but many were still hidden somewhere on the upper floors. So come prepared. I could've visited more, if I had done better homework.

The exhibition that touched me the most was Cig Harvey's "Gardening at Night" at Robert Mann Gallery. Beautiful pictures forming a stunning installation. There were around ten big pictures with high-gloss finishing (that resembled Diasec but probably weren't), another ten or so matted and framed, a few cinemagraphs (moving photos - google it if you're not familiar with the term) plus neon texts. Still, the pictures were the ones that struck me the most. They almost made me want to try color seriously again. Same goes for cinemagraphs - they screens were cleverly framed almost identical to the matted pictures, so when you step closer and find out it's moving - it does surprise. 

If I had to choose one word to describe the pictures, it would be poetic (as I've probably acquired my definition of poetic from the video about Lynne Ramsay films). It's all about small details and beautiful tones, there's no pretentious grand narrative (that's probably the weak link in my work - I need a reason, my pictures are my idèes fixes, but this is my way, no can do :)).

After seeing the exhibition, I bought Harvey's book under the same name, yes, Gardening at Night, without thinking twice (the only thing I regret is not buying a signed copy). Too bad the book format doesn't allow cinemagraphs, these were the cherries on the top, when looking at exhibition. And some of the reproductions are not as good as the exhibition pictures, but they probably never are.

I'm sure I visited some more exhibitions but seems like they didn't stick, I'm still navigating through the chaos of impressions, so if anything comes up, I'll add it to the post.

After digging through Aperture and Barnes&Noble photography books, I found that there was a small, dedicated photo book shop just a few blocks from where I lived - Dashwood Books. Small shop, but what a choice of photo books. Highly recommended, but I hope you don't happen to be there with the some girls gossiping their gay friend who got AIDS (seriously, it wasn't possible not to hear their conversation as they were loud).