An exhibit of my photographs will open on 14 March at the Hermès gallery in Mumbai as part of the city-wide FOCUS photography festival — you can see a list of participating galleries here — which will be the first of its kind in Mumbai: a mix of historical and contemporary photography that brings together local and foreign artists around the theme of ‘the city.’ This is a loose and broad organizing concept that, as it happens, is central to my work.
There will be two elements to my exhibit. The first consists of large-format printed photographs (some of which will be familiar from the photography galleries on my website) that look at cities not for their chaos or human density but for their tranquility and moments of solitude, in which the vestiges of human presence remain in the material world — as, for example, with peeling wallpaper in an abandoned home where the “frames” of long-removed pictures are still visible.
The second element, a projection, is a bit more unusual and is a project I have been working on in cities around the world for nearly eight years. It is a series of images that lies somewhere between the still images of photography and the moving images of film, being a fixed image of urban spaces that in 3- to 5-minute intervals ‘dissolve’ in a kind of slow-motion time lapse to depict a 24-hour period in the life of the world’s cities, shifting from dawn to dusk, people coming home, turning on lights, going to bed, and rising in the morning.
Unifying these two elements is an interest in how urban space is inhabited and, in particular, what I call a ‘geographically equidistant’ perspective on the world. Conventionally, an American photographer might regard, say, London or Paris as culturally near and Mumbai or Phnom Penh as distant but these photographs and the projection take all urban spaces on precisely equal cultural and aesthetic terms. What I am trying to do, in a sense, is invert and modernize the parochialism depicted in this famous New Yorker magazine cover from 29 March 1976 by Saul Steinberg, which depicts the parochial New York view of the regions of consequence (and thus, by their absence, also inconsequence) looking west from the city. Click image below to enlarge:
Here are still-image outtakes of a few of the cities that will be represented in the projection at my exhibit — to see them evolving, in motion, visit the gallery in Mumbai from 14-27 March:
Hermès Mumbai, 15 A Horniman Circle, Fort, Mumbai (Open all days, 10.30 am – 7.30 pm)