Transformations New York

Daniela Hinrichs September 8, 2015

Opening Exhibition DEAR Art Room

Everything is different: for a brief moment, New York is no longer defined by its soaring pinnacles or the stern walls of concrete, steel, and glass that line its avenues. It is a place of small miracles. Neither the straight lines of skyscrapers nor the clear structures of the street grid channel the beholder’s gaze. At this moment, everything is transformed, everything is indistinct and uncertain. When the German photographer Wilfried Bauer (1944–2005) visited the city on the Hudson for a reportage more than three decades ago, a vulnerable and tender metropolis revealed itself to his lens. Amid so much grandeur, Bauer homed in on the small detail: puddles on a sidewalk, possessions abandoned by the street. In long exposures, he picked up on the unregarded still small moments in the city’s life. When the series of black-and-white shots first ran in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s weekend magazine in 1984, each picture seemed like an urban poem.

Transformations New York © Walter Schels

Transformations New York © Walter Schels

NYC ghost´s and flowers © Edgar Leciejewski

NYC ghost´s and flowers © Edgar Leciejewski

New York produces a steady stream of images that repeat the same formulas, and yet it defies that clichéd vision, as Walter Schels (b. 1936) surely also realized the moment he first set foot in the city. He had seen hundreds of photographs, yet when he finally came to see for himself in 1966, what he encountered did not feel familiar at all. Schels’s series “Transformations New York” captures its subject in abstract and highly graphical images. Skyscrapers seem transmuted into matrices or punch-card patterns, as though Manhattan’s true message had folded out of the two-dimensional surface of the picture into a hitherto unknown depth. Transformations trumped information.

Robert Frank © F.C. Gundlach

Robert Frank © F.C. Gundlach

Even a myth like New York is reborn at every moment for those who have eyes to see. That is why the inaugural exhibition at DEAR Photography Art Room, scheduled to open on September 11, is devoted to photographic portraits of the Big Apple that scrutinize the medium’s engagement with an ostensibly well-trodden terrain. In addition to works by Bauer and Schels, the show will feature photographs by F.C. Gundlach (b. 1926) and Edgar Leciejewski (b. 1977). Gundlach’s fashion and street photography, which captures the vanished New York of the 1960s and 1970s, has long been an iconic expression of its era. Leciejewski, who lives in Leipzig, creates what we may call street photography 2.0: four years ago, he collected prefabricated images of New York on Google Street View and then manipulated them on his computer. In its own way, the resulting series, titled “NYC, Ghosts and Flowers,” is also about the transformation of images that seemed to have hardened into stereotypes. The real New York is very different—at least for that one moment of photography.

New York © Wilfried Bauer

New York © Wilfried Bauer

Author: Ralf Hanselle

DEAR ART ROOM
Opening: September 11, 6-9pm
Kleine Reichenstraße 1, 20457 Hamburg, Germany
After September 13 by appointment only.

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