Andy Lock at Eastman House

I went to see Andy Lock speak about his Orchard Park: Utopia's Ghosts exhibit at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) He said that he thought the Eastman House presentation was the best he's seen, capturing the essence of the work. The exhibit is a series of images taken at a housing project called Orchard Park just prior to its demolition; from there, he projected them onto a wall of glow-in-the-dark paint and photographed the fading result. The green tint of the paint gives it a "radioactive" feel and evidence of brushstrokes in the phosphorescent paint gives it a pastoral feel as well.

Thematically, I agree that it captures the notion of "idealism lost" — that these buildings were made to provide some kind of idealized housing to folks, but as the buildings aged, that veneer was worn off completely, leaving the stark reality of really quite basic housing. Plus, the exploration of modern ruins is a running theme in modern photography.

Since he had explored this subject so deeply, I asked him why the ephemera was so exciting while the actual inhabitants probably were not? — that an artist will seldom have interest in the people who lived there, yet be fascinated by the vague shadows of their existence.  He said that the appeal is that we can project ourselves into a fantasy of what was rather than the detailed reality of what is. So, for instance, when a couple chairs are placed at odd angles to one another, they tell a certain kind of story, but there was probably little similarity between the placement of the chairs and the relationship of the people who used them.

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