Signs of Life: On Location

Signs of Life: On Location
Matthew Jensen's "Signs of Life" is the first walk of our 2011 season. We emailed a bit over the past few days, as he's currently an artist-in-residence at The MacDowell Colony. See below for a our lil interview and then look at the photos--it's unfathomable that this is Manhattan.

EC: Your work tends to deal with cataloging and honoring the past while giving the viewer/participant an opportunity to find and discover anew. To me, creating this work would seem a helpful way to acclimate to new surroundings. How does your current work influence your sense of home?

MJ: I always try to make work in and of the locations where I live. Before moving to New York I made a number of site-specific collections and photographic series in the region I grew up (very rural and green towns). Even when I am living in a location for a week, at a hotel for instance, I end up making a work about my surroundings, perhaps as a way to process and understand the new space.

When I moved back to New York City I thought it would be an interesting challenge to try and make work with the same techniques of exploring natural spaces and collection. Working in the woods and with found objects is almost a given in the post-industrial towns where I grew up, but in Manhattan, I wasn't sure if it would be possible or interesting. But after two years working on "Nowhere In Manhattan" and numerous other projects in Brooklyn and Queens, I now feel like I know the hidden landscapes of then city better then most natives. There is a very good chance that all this exploration is instigated by the fact that New York City may be my home for a very long time and if that is the case, then I best know it as well as I knew the forests and streams of my hometown.

EC: Tell us about the connections between your "Nowhere in Manhattan" project and your upcoming "Signs of Life" walk?

MJ: The first part of "Nowhere in Manhattan" was the exploration and documentation phase. I wanted to have somewhat rigorous experiences in all of Manhattan's existing green spaces. The residue of this process, apart from the photographic series, is a strange knowledge of the terrain that goes beyond the trails: first-hand stories, surprises, scares, discoveries and really magical happenings–all of which need to be shared on-location.

"Signs of Life" will take place on April 30, May 1, May 7 and May 8 at 1pm. Click here for more info.

The Urban Forest

Kate Glicksberg's "The Urban Forest"

Kate Glicksberg is a Brooklyn-based photographer whose latest exhibition, "The Urban Forest", is up at Chashama, 30 West 8th Street in Manhattan. Recently, I saw her poignant exhibition and asked her to be part of our inaugural one-ish question interview.

See photos of "The Urban Forest".

Elastic City: In many of the photos, the landscape looks simultaneously in shock and self-aware. Does it feel that way to you and how did you go about capturing these images?

Kate Glicksberg: That's an interesting way of describing these images. I always think of the trees as thriving or surviving. But yes, there's often a sense of displacement in the images. Especially in relation to the trees that are in the process of being planted. They seem simultaneously vulnerable and ambitious.

My process is varied. I find locations while traveling through the city. Sometimes I capture it then and there with a digital point and shoot. Other times, I imagine how I want the image to look-- quality of light, season, time of day and will wait to photograph it with either a medium or large format camera. Often, I will shoot the scene several times until I get an image I'm satisfied with. And then sometimes I roam the city with my camera hoping to be surprised. That's the most unpredictable way of working. Sometimes you find something and sometimes you return empty-handed, but it's a good exercise in being open to the environment.

I also produced a book in conjunction with the exhibition. It's a photo zine that chronicles the project in a wider spectrum than was possible in the show. It reveals more of my thinking on the subject as well as my process of discovery.

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