By Sivan Askayo
Lynn Saville, a fine art photographer based in New York, is well known for photographing both cities and rural settings at twilight and dawn, or as she describes it, “the boundary times between night and day.” She has been exhibited in England, France, Italy, and Mexico and has published two monographs, Acquainted with the Night (Rizzoli, 1997) and Night/Shift (Random House/Monacelli, 2009).
Her current project, Vacancy, is a natural outgrowth of the pictures she included in NIGHT/SHIFT and became quite relevant due to the latest recession in the U.S. Saville describes this project as “a result of the ghostly pseudo-transactions of our market economy, the emptiness of the urban margins has come back to haunt our city centers. I want to capture the poignancy and disquieting beauty of this migration”. She uses a field camera (6×9 format) on a tripod and color film to capture the images during twilight.
All Images are Courtesy of the Artist
How did the project start?
“In that earlier NIGHT/SHIFT work, I was using color photographs taken at dawn and dusk to explore marginal areas and mixed-use zones in New York City. In the process, I was shifting away from the iconic structures, such as the Flatiron Building, that I sometimes focused on for my black-and-white work.
“I was also experimenting with the effects of color at night; for example, the artificial-seeming but absolutely realistic greens and yellows of surveillance lights. Toward the end of that project, I began to notice the effects of The Great Recession in the center of the city—so many stores were shuttered on Madison Avenue in the heart of Manhattan—and this called me back from the margins.
”It appeared that the kind of disquieting but haunting emptiness I had been seeing at the fringes now inhabited the city center.
“I began responding to the effects of the financial turmoil on fashionable Madison Avenue. One of the first images that struck me was an empty store whose glowing geometric windows resembled a Rothko painting.”
What’s next for this project?
“I used to regard people as interlopers in my carefully set up pictures of absence. But, lately, I’ve come to see how ghosted figures can intensify the theme.
“I want to experiment more with such figures and also to enlarge the scope of the project beyond shop windows, including, for instance, billboards caught on the fly from moving trains and buses. I will also work in urban centers other than New York; for example, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Detroit, and Houston.”
To see more of Saville’s projects, visit her site.No Comments