Who are these ghost-like faces emerging from darkness?
The faces depicted in my photographs are those of subway passengers waiting for a train at 125th Street in New York City. I videotaped them from the bedroom window of my apartment, which overlooks the train platform, while they waited alone, at night. The final gelatin-silver prints were created using paper negatives of still images taken from this footage. The people depicted are isolated characters – deprived from their environment and even from their bodies. You, as a hidden shooter, also stand in a very isolated position towards your subjects. Would you say this state of isolation is emblematic of living in a city, especially in one like New York?
The most interesting part about creating this work was the opportunity to observe people while they were alone, or believed they were alone, in a very public setting. The sense of isolation experienced by the subject, and their reaction to it, is evident in their facial expressions, which I have in turn isolated from their surroundings. There are many levels of separation between myself and subjects, subjects and their environment, and between subject and final photograph, emphasizing the separateness and isolation one is likely to sense when living in a city like New York. You have captured these people in a rare moment - when one forgets oneself and gets lost in introspection. Would you define them as portraits?
I would not define these images as portraits in a traditional sense. Throughout my image making process, the faces distort, blur, and at times become so stripped of detail that they are virtually unrecognizable. This body of work is not a series of portraits of individuals, but rather a portrait of universal feelings, gestures and expressions.
In a way, your images reflect a double chiasmus: on the one hand, they create a very picturesque body of work from poor quality, low-resolution media; on the other hand, they suggest a marked sense of intimacy with these faces, although the subway is essentially a place of anonymity.
To me, the images act as mementos. While I have no idea who any of these people are, I’ve shared with them a small moment in time, which ultimately left a lasting impression on me. This sentiment is reflected in the way the images were created, which enhanced the beauty and intrigue of each mysterious face.
Limited edition, numbered and signed.