Now that we are sending you to The End
That great god
That we who follow you invented forgiveness
And forgive nothing
-W.S. Merwin, "For A Coming Extinction"
Through multiple exposures on expired 120 film photographed with a malfunctioning Rolleiflex from 1952, I am creating a series of American, visual idioms out of the local histories of two cities, Los Angeles & New York City, that appear analogous in their well worn place in the pantheon of Americana. Depending on who you talk to in the United States, the two exist as avatars of the American Dream or a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah.
As a local to New York City, I was drawn to the bipolarity of these prevailing sentiments that a place could simultaneously be an American Utopia, an American Dystopia, or believed to be an apex at all.
Stylistically, I wanted to engage with the seemingly ever present and aspirational discourse around the “film photography revival” while thinking about it in relation to the nostalgic and very visible lore of both cities. Expired film from after the Y2K reset and an old camera felt appropriate to document this current golden age of apocalypse.
The resulting images inhabit a type of event horizon which carries no positive or negative valence. Rather, in exploring particular neighborhoods whose present cultural capital and lucrative property values can be traced to the cannibalization and erasure of communities of color through forms of violence, the images suspend the soul scraps of an American past, present, and future, where the exploded view is actually a nexus of no-return.
The history of both American cities is one of unscrupulous development without regard to the habitability of a place and welfare for its communities. I am documenting this metastasis starting with my own backyard, which was designated NYC’s newest Superfund site: the Meeker Avenue Plume.