Artwork by William Chiapella the II
The City, where people are seeming afterthoughts against a backdrop of slot
canyons and open valleys of the manufactured landscape, blending into and out
of the scene. They re-emerge as quick flits of light and substance, only to
disappear once more into the darkness. There is a unique geometry to the City
and the angularity of its people; it looms large - white and grey and shadow -
while the people move about beneath, appearing almost as the same hues.
Sometimes it's difficult to tell where the people end and where the buildings
In our current age where everything is regarded as suspicious, such as photographers
- some would argue especially photographers - it's becoming increasingly more difficult
to photograph unseen in public. For me that's what adds to the thrill - to photograph
people in their natural setting and to see what comes of it. Will they see me photographing
them? If so, will they confront me? Give me a dirty look? Or will they be so absorbed
with their own thoughts that they won't even notice me? What will the images look like
later? I like to keep my images open-ended, not affording anyone any reason to think of
them as I do, but rather to come to their own conclusions about my work. Thus I've left
them untitled, keeping them blank slates for others to write their own ideas upon.
Coming from a rather small town, it was easy to be enchanted by the "Big City." In my naiveté
I thought that any changes in the cityscape would go mostly unnoticed by the general populace,
unlike a rural area, where every new addition was looked at with curiosity and/or contempt and
brought with it a sense of encroachment. But I soon found out that change does register with
urban folk. The City was constantly being reshaped and reinvented, and that within a few years
or even months, some parts of it would be almost unrecognizable. These are my images of a place
in flux; a visual ode and memoir to a place I wish I'd known decades ago, and which will be
completely different when I go back years from now. A place where the only organic coffee shop
in the Financial District closes up and is replaced by a 7-11, where the specter of Downtown
business culture threatens to overshadow the long-lived and storied artists areas, and where
the poor are increasingly pushed further and further out of sight. This is the city that I
both love and despise; it can change you immensely or crush you indefinitely, all the while
beckoning you back.
I still come back every time.
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