The title, (Con)temporary Landscapes, refers to an on-going body of photographic work that is directly influenced by living in the village of Catskill for the past five years and in the Hudson Valley region for over ten years. The Hudson Valley’s rich culture and beautiful landscape is interwoven with political rifts where Trump flags and signs are exhibited in front of various homes in rural settings, yet cities, towns and villages are often leaning democratic.
In 2016, leading up to the general elections, I decided to photograph any house I came across that had a Trump sign in front of it. There were no Hillary signs to be found, except for one which read “Hillary for Prison”. The final series of images titled “99 Trump Signs and 1 Hillary” presented an ordinary yet troubling landscape, at least to democratic eyes. A visual essay with all one hundred photos that I published on medium.com November 1st, 2016 received over 13,000 views online.
After the election I continued with various projects dealing with Trump’s triumph. After buying one of the now-famous Trump MAGA hats for another photo project, I started receiving all of his campaign emails. I didn’t unsubscribe and saved each email, keeping a catalog of whatever the campaign deemed important that day. For this exhibition I am presenting a series of color posters simply titled “Subject Lines From The Trump Campaign”.
Alongside the posters are three ongoing photographic investigations of our region: in "180 Degrees (or Pivot Point)” I am questioning the subjective value of selecting and making a photograph of one scene as opposed to any other scene. What makes one angle right and another not? What is the scene facing any given photograph? Why was it not worthy? Is there a relationship there? I attempt to find out by planting myself in a spot, photographing a scene I find interesting, and then pivoting 180 degrees to shoot the scene behind me. Sometimes the location lends itself to a special dualistic view and sometimes it doesn’t. I am intrigued by the complexity and chance dialog that can happen when looking both ways. If I think there is a conversation there that merits more attention I present the two photographs as a diptych.
For my second project, “Here, There (or Opposite Ends)”, I expand on the previous theme and photograph the same scene, or subject, from two opposing angles. I prefer subjects that are inherently boring or simply overlooked, such as a crumbling wall, a single tree or a road underpass. I’ve often been surprised by how similar the image appears, even though it’s shot from its polar opposite viewpoint. This makes me curious how a variation in the camera location impacts the photographic outcome and reflects my long-time interest in shifting our point of view, visiting the other side, understanding there is more to the story than one angle, or reflecting on the simple notion that one image can tell a whole story. By creating a diptych in this case, I am presenting the underlying relationship of sameness. The flip sides of the same coin.
Lastly, continuing my visual exploration of Trump signs, I will be presenting some initial photos of various political lawn signs, flags, etc., reflecting on how the region is reacting to the coming 2020 elections. This series will be ongoing and I’ll be asking visitors to let me know where they see other Trump-related political paraphernalia so I can collect more photographs for the show. In the end, these political signs are temporary and most will be removed after Tuesday November 3rd. Whoever is the president is also temporary, and our life here on this planet is temporary as well. Art tries to turn the temporary, fleeting moments of this world into something more grounded in a universal language that perhaps will last longer, perhaps not.
January 15th, 2020