New York Cool
Arts

William Gedney-Christopher Wool: Into the Night
June 27-September 27, 2004

Written by Stephanie Alberico
Photos Courtesy of PS1 MOMA

Most of my days in the city are hectic and rushed. So when I get the
chance to sit back and take a breath of relief, I cherish it. This was what
my visit to P.S.1 MoMA, a contemporary art center, was like. A short subway
ride on that Saturday morning brought me into Queens, where this museum is
definitely a diamond in the rough.

Initially, I went to check out William Gedney and Christopher Wool's
exhibit, Into the Night. According to the press release, this exhibition
unites a group of William Gedney's rarely seen night photographs and over a
hundred photographs from Christopher Wool's series "East Broadway
Breakdown," both of which are being exhibited in New York City for the first time.

All the photographs are black and white and were shot at night. Gedney's
photos were taken on a road trip he took cross-country between 1965 and 1975.

The locations of his photos range from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Tennesee,
California, and New York. There are no people in these pictures. They are
dark, lonely, and desperate. His imagery is more about "what is not seen."
These pictures represent a poor-mid America. For example, he features a
photograph from Knoxville, Tennesee (1972), which is a simple picture of a
stop sign with the word "War," spraypainted beneath the word, "Stop."


Photo Credit William Gedney

Another shot from Detroit, Michigan was astonishing. It was a picture
taken in the pitch black and featured a large tree in front of an old,
broken-down house. Gedney captures the solitude and peacefulness of
night by featuring simplistic objects in the frame of his photographs. I
felt as if I were roaming the earth at 4 am in the pitch black, while
everyone else was quietly asleep in their beds. It made me feel exposed and
utterly alone.

Gedney finished off his collection with amazing pictures of old diners and
ancient gas stations with historic gas pumps, all surrounded by a full moon.

On the other hand, Wool's collection is made up of images shot between the
Lower East Side and Chinatown. All of these pictures are featured in his
book, East Broadway Breakdown. Wool photographed side streets, desolate
hallways, vacant restaurants, deserted streets, and even trash bins.

These photos also brought me feelings of desperation and hopelessness.
They were everyday objects, but brutally real and authentic. For example,
one photo is of a trashed and an abandoned NYPD car. Another photo shows a
fire hydrant leaking onto a flooded street. He also pictured vast city
streets, graffitied buildings, and dirty city streets.

My favorite photograph of the Wool collection was a picture of the sidewalk
with the footprints of wet shoes left on the pavement. It was so simple it
was intriguing. It was like a snapshot of a life lived that had left its
mark on the world. When asked about these photographs, John Szarkowski
commented, "Photography is about what you can see-this is what you can't
see."

These two collections explore night photography and experiment with the
lack of sunlight and instead the presence of moonlight. These photographers
look at images from an alternative angle, because amazingly everything looks
completely different at night.



Doug Aitken Installation

Before I left, however, I wandered through a couple of other amazing
exhibits. Doug Aitken's Hard Light featured a collection of work, which
explores particular qualities of light.


Doug Aitken Installation


One room (Interiors) consisted of eleven fabric screens, which formed an enclosed viewing space. Within the three stories on the screen, Aitken creates video sounds and images that fuse together perfectly.

Another installment, Sleep, was a room infiltrated with breathing sounds
and pictures of two people walking on a beach. The walls were covered with
every different angle of this man and woman on the beach. I felt safe. I
felt like I was wrapped in my blankets in my bed and dreaming peacefully.

Besides the Into the Night exhibit, a trip to P.S.1 is relaxing and sure
to leave you rejuvenated.

P.S.1MoMA is open from Noon to 6 p.m., Thursday through Monday. Museum
admission is free from Noon-2 p.m. and $8.00 from 2-9 p.m. on Warm Up
Saturdays.

For more information visit http://www.ps1.org/exhibits/current.php
or call 718-784-2084.


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