Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Stieglitz and O'Keeffe: Their Love and Life in Letters

July 21, 2011

From 1915 until 1946, some 25,000 pieces of paper were exchanged between two major 20th-century artists. Painter Georgia O'Keeffe and photographer Alfred Stieglitz wrote each other letters — sometimes two and three a day, some of them 40 pages long. The correspondence tracks their relationship from acquaintances to admirers to lovers to man and wife to exasperated — but still together — long-marrieds.

The first volume of those letters has just been published. My Faraway One, edited by Sarah Greenough, features 700-plus pages of the couple's correspondence, sent between 1915 and 1933.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Bertha Urdang

Bertha Urdang was a dear and important friend of mine for a few years before I left New York City. In 1994 I flew to Israel to visit her. I had not seen Bertha for three years, already in her late 80's, Bertha maintained the same defining spark and vitality I had come to know when first we met. Bertha's keen eye shaped the clear and sharp visual vocabulary of her gallery. There was always time to speak of art, attend concerts and have tea. After all these years, I think of her often and the tremendous art she represented. Bertha generously gave me my first two solo shows.

Artist, Joshua Neustein tells the story well:

She was a ...mixture of the 'English lady, polite, defensive and the pioneer, always ready for a spat, like a cat with a permanently arched back... When a dinner invitation wasn't as forthcoming as she felt it should be Bertha exploded and abruptly became the lonely war widow who'd sacrificed everything for her nation, her people, ideals and who nobody cared about...She thought everyone should share her awe and dedication to art and had no patience with people who didn't quite measure up. Berated those who came to her gallery with what she perceived as the wrong attitude and informed them that "she wasn't selling vegetables" and they might lower their voices and open their eyes and minds.

Bertha Urdang was born in England at an undisclosed date at the beginning of the 20th Century. She went to school at North London Collegiate and grew up as a Fabian socialist and a Zionist, which at that time was not contradictory. She studied at the University of Manchester and the Sorbonne. She came to Israel, married, and settled in Bet Hakerem, a peripheral neighborhood of Jerusalem.

In 1948, her husband died, leaving her a widow, the mother of three daughters, Rina, Daphna, and Miri. She plunged into, the promotion of Israeli art. Bertha's art dealings, exploits and failures reached folklore proportions. "Rina" was the name of her first gallery on Shlom Zion Hamalka Street, near the Central Post Office in Jerusalem, which she managed with a partner, and took two months a year to go to America to spread the word and sell the work. In 1966 she separated from her partner over an ideological difference: "He loved money, I loved art," is how she summed it up.

To read more:


Saturday, December 11, 2010

One of my Heroes

Photography has Kick


By Stephen Perloff, Editor of The Photograph Collector Newsletter, and Alex
Novak, Editor of the E-Photo Newsletter

Christie's sale of Important Daguerreotypes by Joseph-Philibert Girault de
Prangey on October 7 realized $2,873,375 with a 22% buy-in rate. Four phone
bidders, 1779, 1794, 1810, and 1841 took most of the top lots, with a French
bidder in the room, 626, taking numerous lower-priced, but good quality lots.
The number of buy-ins was higher than at the previous Girault de Prangey
sales--a result of a combination of the deterioration in the quality of the
material on offer and the more erratic estimates in this sale. Even much of the
material in this sale that sold probably shouldn't have, and I wonder how many
of the active bidders on the phone really viewed many of these poorer quality

Lots 2 and 3 both went to 1779, which was an English-speaking bidder on the
phone with Christie's Stuart Alexander: Girault de Prangey's self-portrait,
probably 1841, went for $194,500, more than three times the high estimate; and
the beautiful Atget-like "261. Paris. 1841. Etude de plantes" for $242,500,
almost double the high estimate and over the bid of New York dealer Hans P.
Kraus, Jr. These were the top two lots in the sale. Bidder 1779 was highly
active on many other lots in this sale. It makes me wonder if Qatar wasn't back
bidding, filling in some gaps.

Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey (21 October 1804 – 7 December 1892) was a French photographer and draughtsman who was active in the Middle East. His daguerreotypes are the earliest surviving photographs of Greece, Palestine, Egypt, Syria and Turkey. Remarkably, his photographs were only discovered in the 1920s in a storeroom of his estate and then only became known eighty years later.

A different phone bidder (1759) outlasted Boston dealer Robert Klein for lot 4,
"15 Rome 1842 T[emple] de la Concorde Ent[rée] Intér[ieure]", at $128,500. This
might have gone higher in previous Girault de Prangey sales. And yet another
phone bidder (1719) captured lot 7, "28 Rome 1842 Prise de la Colonne Trajane",
at $56,250.

Phone bidder 1779 closed the window on lot 8, "82 Fenêtre, clocher, Cornéto,
[1842]", at $80,500. Bidder 626 took his most expensive lot (#9), "27 Rome 1842
Jardins, Villa Médici" for $68,500. Collector Bruce Lundberg won lot 11, 35
Environs de Rome vue prise du R[io] del dio Redicolo [1842], for $43,750.
Robert Klein was lucky on lot 13 and paid the same price for 61 Athènes
Anc[ienne] Cathédrale Côté S[ud] [1842].

Phone bidder 1794 went to $56,250 for lot 22, "132 Constantinople, rue sous le
petit champ des morts [probably 1843]". A bidder in the room, 611, took lots 24
and 25, "75 Aphrodisias Entablement et Chap[iteau] [1843]" at $52,500; and
"Euromus Temple antique [probably 1843]" at $80,500.

1794 scooped up lot 27, "150 Constantinople 1843 Fontaine pris du T[emple] du
Galat" for $80,500. Then 1779 was back for lots 29 and 30, the latter, "230.
Zouk. Syrie. 1844. Tombeau" at $134,500 (the third highest price of the sale);
and lot 32, "249 Liban 1844 Les Cèdres. Suite" for $50,000.

A new phone, 1810, bought lot 41, "130 Kaire G S Gânem Dét[ail] [1842-1844]" at
$98,500. After picking up lots 43, 45 and 46, phone bidder 1779 bid $62,500 for
lot 47, "145 Rosette. 1842. Fabriques et Palmiers". And a new phone bidder
(1746) took lot 48, "204 Denderah 1844" at $98,500.

1794 paid $60,000 for lot 57, "219 Jérusalem 1844 G[ran]d tombeau Vue de
Josaphat", and $122,500 for lot 60, "[Jérusalem--Tombeaux de Zachariah et Bnei
Hezir, Vallée Kidron, 1844]", which became a battle of phones in the end.

Then 1810 went on a tear, picking up five of the next six lots, but then ran
into 1841 on lot 67. Phone bidder 1841 had waited until the end of the sale,
but then was the winning bidder on five straight lots: lot 67, "[Jerusalem, Al
Wad, rue dans la vieille ville, 1844]" at $98,500 over 1810's underbid; lot 68,
"196 Jérusalem Porta aurea [1844]" at $116,500 and also over bidder 1810; lot
69, "[Jérusalem, fortifications Porta Aurea, 1844]" at $60,000; lot 70,
"[Jérusalem, Porta Aurea, 1844]" at $104,500; and, lot 71, "220 Jérusalem 1844
G[ran]de Mosquée prise de la Porte S[ud] M..." at $56,250.

And 1810 took the last two lots of the sale, lot 73 for $25,000 and lot 74, "210
Jérusalem Dét[ail] Porte Egl[ise] du S[aint] Sép[ulcre] [1844]" for $80,500,
over the bid of dealer Robert Klein.

Despite the buy-ins (usually on problematic plates), this was a strong sale with
all the top lots but one (those hammering for $80,000 and up) selling above
their high estimates, and that one sold within the estimates. There was strong
and competitive bidding, despite the sale being dominated by six bidders.
Bidder 611 captured three lots for $143,000 total; bidder 626, Joseph Delarue, a
Paris dealer on a cell phone reportedly to fellow Paris dealer Serge Plantureux,
bought nine lots for $171,125; 1794 took five lots for $325,500; 1810 10 lots
for $365,250; 1841 five lots for $437,750; and 1779 11 lots for $890,125. That
is 43 of the 58 lots sold and $2,332,750--or 81.2% by dollar.

(Copyright ©2010 by The Photo Review. My thanks to Steve Perloff and The
Photograph Collector Newsletter for giving me permission to use this
information. The Photograph Collector, which is a wonderful newsletter that I
can heartily recommend, is published monthly and is available by subscription
for $149.95 (overseas airmail is $169.95). You can phone 1-215-891-0214 and
charge your subscription or send a check or money order to: The Photograph
Collector, 140 East Richardson Ave, Langhorne, PA 19047.)


By Stephen Perloff
Editor of The Photograph Collector Newsletter

Phillips de Pury & Company's auction on October 8 totaled $3,987,800 selling 78%
by value, with many of the sale's top lots surpassing their pre-sale estimates.
The sale total is Phillips's highest in nearly three years, and half-a-million
dollars above their April totals, further highlighting the market's increasing
momentum, although again, the buy-in rate was 38%, reflecting the selectivity of
bidders. Perhaps some in the room were distracted by the stunning view across
the Hudson from the large picture windows lining Phillips's long, narrow,
third-floor salesroom.

The day started with 15 sales associates manning the phones and 32 people in the
room. That number eventually grew to over 50, but waxed and waned throughout
the two sessions, hitting a low of 22 until the crowd dwindled even further at
the end of the sale.

Irving Penn's Pablo Picasso

The highest selling lot in the sale was Irving Penn's Pablo Picasso at La
Californie, Cannes ($80,000–$120,000), which sold for $182,500 to Peter MacGill.
Another work by Penn, Chef, New York, sold for $134,500 to the phone, almost
tripling the high estimate and marking a new world record for the photographer's
Small Trades series. It took fourth place.

Richard Avedon's "Brigit Bardot"

Iconic works by master photographers were likewise successful, as exemplified by
Robert Frank's Trolley--New Orleans, which sold for $158,500 (third place) to
Peter MacGill again; Richard Avedon's Brigitte Bardot, which sold for $170,500
(second place) to a phone bidder who bested Kevin Moore; and Robert
Mapplethorpe's Calla Lily, which sold for $74,500 (ninth place) to an order

John Baldessari's "Life's Balance (with Brushes)

Contemporary photography also generated some strong results, as represented by
John Baldessari's Life's Balance (With Brushes), which sold for $97,300 (fifth
place) to Kevin Moore; Thomas Struth's Paradise 23, São Francisco de Xavier,
Brasil, which sold for $86,500 (seventh place); Christian Boltanski's Fête du
Pourim, and Hiroshi Sugimoto's, Ionian Sea, Santa Cesarea ($35,000–$45,000)
which both brought $68,500 (tied for tenth place).

Ansel Adams's Portfolio Three: Yosemite Valley eked out $47,500, just under low
estimate. And Dorothea Lange's The General Strike, Policeman, San Francisco,
1934 just reached its low estimate at $43,750. They went to a phone bidder and
order, respectively. Edward Steichen's Foxgloves, France, 1926, also went to a
phone just under low estimate at $47,500. This same print had sold at
Christie's in October 1999 for $29,900, a compound rate of under 4% with fees.

An internet bidder snared André Kertész's Distortion #6, Paris, 1933, at
$42,500. And a phone bidder went beyond the high estimate to $45,000 for Irving
Penn's striking Gaultier Eye Earrings, New York, 1998 (in a small edition of
six). Andres Serrano's Madonna of the Rock, from his Immersion series, 1987,
just hit its high estimate at $37,500. And lastly, Barry Frydlender's Smoking,
Sinai, 2004, also hit its high estimate at $52,500.

Frydlender was among those photographers offered for the first time at Phillips
de Pury who performed well. Also Shinichi Maruyama's Kusho # 1, sold for
$18,750, and He Yunchang's Earthly Possession, sold for $13,750; all mark new
world auction records for the photographers.

Vanessa Kramer, Director of New York Photographs department, averred, "We are
extremely pleased with the results. The competitive bidding on the higher value
classic and contemporary works reflects the gradually increasing confidence in
the market by sellers and buyers alike."

(Copyright ©2010 by The Photo Review. My thanks to Steve Perloff and The
Photograph Collector Newsletter for giving me permission to use this
information. The Photograph Collector, which is a wonderful newsletter that I
can heartily recommend, is published monthly and is available by subscription
for $149.95 (overseas airmail is $169.95). You can phone 1-215-891-0214 and
charge your subscription or send a check or money order to: The Photograph
Collector, 140 East Richardson Ave, Langhorne, PA 19047.)


By Stephen Perloff
Editor of The Photograph Collector Newsletter

Another record-setting album was Roman Vishniac's portfolio The Vanished World,
complete with 12 silver print photographs of Jews living in Poland from 1936 to
1938. The album, which was printed in an edition of 50 in 1977, brought

There was also a suite of 29 portraits of Native Americans by Alexander Gardner,
Chas. Bell and others from the U.S. Geological Survey of the Territories, late
1860s to early 1870s, $28,800 (fourth place); a copy of Volume 1 of Edward S.
Curtis's magnum opus, The North American Indian, 1907, complete with 78
sepia-toned photogravures, signed and dated by Curtis, a record $15,600 (tied
for ninth place); as well as a portfolio of a different kind, Emmet Gowin's
Concerning America and Alfred Stieglitz, and Myself, with 14 silver prints,
1963-64, printed 1965, one of 100, signed and inscribed and with additional ink
embellishment on the cover, $33,600 (third place).

Several examples of the earliest photographs were among the highlights, such as
a whole-plate daguerreotype of three young sisters attributed to Albert
Southworth and Josiah Hawes, late 1840s--early 1850s, $12,000; and a
quarter-plate daguerreotype of seven placer miners in Northern California,
operating equipment used to separate dirt from gold, early 1850s, $15,600.

Classic 20th-century black-and-white photographic images included Brassaï's
Bijou au Bar de la Lune, Montmartre, oversize ferrotyped silver print, circa
1932, printed late 1950s to early-mid 1960s, $11,400; Henri Cartier-Bresson's
Behind the Gare St. Lazare, silver print, 1932, printed 1980s, $10,200; André
Kertész's Washington Square (Winter), silver print, 1954, printed no later than
1967, which brought $22,800, a record fro a modern print; Alfred Eisenstaedt's
Children at a Puppet Theatre II, Paris, silver print, 1963, printed 1994,
$12,000; and Josef Koudelka's France, silver print, 1973, printed 1981,

Herb Ritts's "Wrapped Torso"

Among the many eye-catching nudes in the sale were three images from Ruth
Bernhard's The Eternal Body Portfolio, silver prints, 1951-1967, printed 1976,
$15,600; and Herb Ritts's Wrapped Torso, platinum print, 1989, $15,600.

A photograph that attracted a lot of media attention was Annie Leibovitz's
portrait of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, New York, Cibachrome print, 1980, taken
just hours before Lennon's death, which sold for $15,600.

The sale totaled $1,180,322, a bit below the low estimate, with a 34% buy-in
rate by lot.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Volume at the Victoria and Albert Museum


Dikes and Dams control the natural flow of water and
make it run where we want it to go. It is a thing of
planning and construction, of effort and vision.

The gift of man-made constructs is found in our assertions
of all we deem necessary and essential for growth,
it can and does feed the seeds we sow.

We must first self-govern our path to know better
where to place our efforts.
Once the earth has been turned and
established; dreams planted, then we have an
obligation to guide and master our hopes of garden.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Problem of Magnification

by Robin Becker

Today after class, my student explains to me
how he and his roommate plan to trap
history between two enormous mirrors they will install
in space. He is particularly interested in South American countries,
wooden boats circumnavigating the globe.
Kindly, my student instructs me in the development
of laser technology, he persuades me with heroic accounts
of electromagnetic radiation, fabulous as any resurrection.
History, he says, is all matter,
and matter cannot be destroyed. A lasso of light sparks
from his chalky fingers as he describes the problem of magnification.
Today you would lose the fine hairs on Magellan's arms,
the grain in the wood of his mast. Soon, he assures me, technicians
will perfect the lens, the light will refract,
and the boys will see the trees of Tierra del Fuego
as they appeared to the Portuguese commander.
Tonight my student and his roommate elucidate the elegant equations.
Their dormitory room is a planetarium
of faith, earth a lonely place, miles from anywhere
a penciled circle on the small schematic diagram.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Latin American Art Fair, Miami. 2010

On clicks+cuts by Philip Sherburne

Rhythm is texture writ large, peaks and valleys turned to pulse. Texture is rhythm rendered microscopic: (ir)regularity encoded and impressed upon the surface of sound. Where these two break and cleave apart, the click: smooth-faced, one-dimensional, textureless and out of time. The atomic test of sound's durability; a black hole like a tiny diamond.

The click is remainder, the bit spit out of the break.The indigestible leftover that code won't touch. Cousin to the glitch, the click sounds the alarm. It alerts the listener to error. The motor fails, the disk spins down, and against pained silence the resounds only the machinic hack of the click. It is the sound of impatience at technology's betrayal,fingernails tapped on the table while waiting to reboot. It is the drumming against the thrum of too much information.

Distances, for the military, are measured in clicks. As metaphor, the click is multifaceted and multifarious- it speaks volumes. An over determined word a the crux of so many vocabularies: of clocks, Glocks, safe crackers.

The "click" is onomatopoetic, and thus portable across languages; it is metaphor and metonym at once, a borrowed approximation for a non-sound that has swelled into something larger. Connect the dots, and what do you have? A new pointillism: an international network, a growing linkage of artists all in pursuit of different agendas, different intentions, different ends. The click is the hub at the center of all these nodes (even if it's artificial, the click-as-affect). The click -like this clique-of-click- itself is an accident, an accidental collision of styles and intents, noise attracted to noise and static seeking static.

What is it about this sound? The word approximates the music's palette, whether the crackling emptiness of Mikael Stravosand or the gray-scalefizz of Pan Sonic. Click, tick, glitch - brittle words for data hiccups. Yet it's an empty syllable, an after description, a slippery tag that won't quite fix. What's in a name? In this case, everything and nothing, as with "glitch," also almost onomatopoetic, a staple term for journalists ever since a CD was made out of the sound of skipping CDs, a word that circulates like a quasi-virus, unbidden. It has someuse-value, and yet it imposes a limit. Or does it?

This is not a genre but a movement, a shared inclination of perhaps a disinclination; a collective approach to discontinuity. It is not a subgenre, even- at least, not in the way that House, Techno, Electro are subgenres. It is a movement without goal or direction (not even fractal - another popular conceit - for if it turns inward on one release, emphasizing a single tone, say, or magnifying a single recycled element, on the next it may turn outward: distressing an R & B sample with a sandpapery assault, perhaps, or introducing a click-virus into the seemingly robust body of the pop song. It is rootless - equally free from, equally at home in club, home, headphones, gallery. It is a music of potentials: scattering clicks as if sowing seeds. It can be slippery, like one of Larry Bell's glass cubes but reflecting nothing back - no intent, no expression, no identity.

Errors and accidents crystallize. The pearl is an error, a glitch in response to impurity. The error is the aura. Just as Hip Hop records scratched vinyl to lend an aura of authenticity, the click creates a kind of anti-aura, lending a pearl finish to failure. Crucially, where electronic music (from the underground to the pop charts) is obsessed with control, the click steps in to privileged limits. Nothing new, certainly, since John Cage articulated a philosophy of Chance, but in the context of the computer age, where Moore's Law dares musicians to max out their processors and perfection is always just a compile away, the click cuts through the asymptote ideal. To create click-music is to harness failure, whether the crackling of the patch cord or the system-crash in mid-sample. The click redirects the limit-curve and makes it the new baseline against which subsequent successes are measured. Perhaps the limitation is not in the hardware or software, but in the listener, whose ears are not attuned to rhythms cloaked in static. Or perhaps the failure cuts in during playback as speakers shudder against overload, putting up a crackling argument of their own.

Music achieves a new virtuality thanks to the click, a second order of abstraction. Because if pop and dance music aim at the perfect simulation of the Real by electronic means, then clicktech, microhouse,cutfunk graft a secondary structure onto the first - not imitative or hyper real, but substitutive, implied, made clear by context alone; a compressed millisecond of static stands in for the hi-hat, recognizable as such because that's where the hi-hat would have been.

And in still another order of abstraction, click sounds are created, sampled, and edited by visual reference alone. The graphic scores of John Cage and Cornelius Cardew have been shrunken and condensed - where once there were shapes and lines and coded markings to be translated and read into musical expositions, the graphical has been parsed down to the atomic level, to a millisecond-long game of connect-the-dots, a score conducted bit by bit and executed in a flash.

Music is the seam between hearing and not hearing; for everything revealed there is something else occluded. Often the very process of revealing cloaks that other thing. It is like a blueprint with all the text written in another alphabet, or a text printed on a substance so intractable that it slips from your fingers the moment you hold it up for inspection.

And if music is this seam - or this seeming - then the click is perfect reduction: the blip that appears and obliterates. It is, and is not, allied with minimalism. Clickandcuts courts the minimal, flirts with absence, bats eyelashes to the sound of rushing air, coyly repetitive. But behind this screen, beneath the gridded white expanse, a deeper order of complexity disrupts. A seismic pressure bends straight lines; signal begets noise and noise begets silence. The crack of the click fills the air, to the popping of ears.

Through the wooden slats, light and a city bubble beyond

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

swim everyday, anyway you can

Float/Switzerland/June 2010

From the University of Puerto Rico

Presentation Talk for Opening at Casa Aboy/April 2009

Presentation Talk for Opening at Casa Aboy/April 2009

When a decision was made to exhibit my work from New Orleans, I received my share of,

What are you, nuts? You’re going to edit thousands of images down to 30, spend energy and time, personal funds on a tragic photographic essay, during a sad chapter in American history, that occurred almost 4 years ago, a time during which our president showed not one iota of real care or diplomatic tact, an exhibition of work on an island that can’t even take care of its own people during an economic-almost-depression? Who needs that?

In short, yes and who needs that? We all do, especially now.

Before coming up with the above quick answers I did go back to revisit what initially inspired the work. My third trip to New Orleans will be well combined with the efforts and achievements being made by an agency that is working with the children of the city called: New Orleans Outreach.

During the revisiting process I did ask myself what I hoped to achieve with the more than 3000 photographs taken on two separate trips to Louisiana in 2006 and 2007. One of the first questions was, what can I do differently with my visual data stash? What can I possibly bring home with me that countless and gifted photographers didn’t already pillage and store on their Lexar cards? Books on the Katrina disaster have been published, beautiful books that sold within the careful structures of highly publicized gallery exhibitions. Making captivating photographs in New Orleans post-Katrina was easy. There was enough color and twisted texture, messed up disaster wreckage everywhere we looked, enough to go around.

A car hovered over a swimming pool, a 16 wheeler lay dead on its side in the middle of a desolate and destroyed landscape, the residual stockpile from private lives were stacked before abandoned homes that often contained within them a horizontal line 11 feet from the floor where the water level had settled for weeks. The stench, still heavy and clinging to dripping clusters of peeling paint, as one moved from room to room the setting pretended the disguise of a contemporary architectural dig. The calendars, all open to August 2005, some still hanging on the walls, begged verification of this particular disaster; paper thin witnesses to a flooding, an evacuation and death. The sludge slowly receded and made room for various forms of mold. Wheelbarrows and windows taped and broken, traffic lights and signage pushed flat against the earth or missing altogether, fell under the notebook category of Visual Everyday and Normal. Everything was out the window, the baby, the bathwater and the kitchen sink.

This type of photojournalism only becomes interesting if it is organized and displayed to raise consciousness and funds for people who gave their lives, lost their lives and continue to live and give despite and in spite of devastating circumstances. Trying like hell every day on top of it all, New Orleanians worked very hard to get their children to school and keep their families safe, healthy and together; a full days labor, day after day. Many families could not bear the weight. They had been relocated all over the country. Mothers and fathers split, many elderly died from the stressful circumstances. How many of us are blessed with good fortune and even that small basic list of family fundamentals can be challenging on an average and good day? Throw in a little treacherous hurricane, breaking levee system, massive flooding, a public humiliation as the nation watched the carpet and the curtain pulled simultaneously and ask yourself, how far would your spirits have taken you, for how long would your optimism and proud resiliency have kicked in and held? Or do you think you may have just emotionally tanked and moved on, never to return to your roots?

But they did come home. New Orleanians are back on their turf. Music filled rooms and crawfish boils are all over town. New Orleans is all about water? Water under the bridge. like water off a ducks back, let it roll, wash, let it slide? I think they will always remember the floods, but maybe it’s a lesson to go on living in a place even when it’s hard, near impossible for some. Maybe that drive homeward, even if Home is flooding, happens when the place where you’ve lived for so long is worth it. There is an emotional and creative investment this town has made in its place, right where it is. I understand the passion for place, but now the question has to be asked:

Do we have the right to live below the water line?

Can the citizens of a city or state and the local and national governing bodies afford to protect lives in areas that will certainly flood again and again? Does the United States, the Netherlands or any coastal community in the world have the funds to adequately protect the citizens that continue to live in the wet and future flooded lands? Is there a way to live differently in areas where the water level is rising? Is eco-friendly construction enough? Are floating homes the only viable solution? How will design work? Will we congest our lakes and rivers with single-family homes and one day awake to the vanished beauty of a once and past tranquil oasis? Can we exchange acquired and used water space for an equal measurement of land returned to near Garden of Eden condition? What type of solutions can we afford to maintain?

It was recently brought to my attention that beyond the dramatic and biblical magnitude of floods there are obviously other kinds of danger zones all over the world related to fires and earthquakes, etc. This photo essay is but ONE story, one I chose. It was delivered to me as I sat at a table with a dear friend from New Orleans and he brought the reality of Katrina in his city, home. During that meal, the devastation was made real, effectively resounded in my desire to give beyond the confines of my everyday life, and I announced then and there, I was going to gut houses, I was going to take photos, I was going to make those photos serve a purpose. And I did. And I’m going back for follow through on my third trip this April. The intent of this exhibition is not to highlight an exceptional moment or disaster “type” or special efforts made by one person. The purpose of this exhibition is two fold. First, this work is asking you, how we will live and build in accordance to nature’s REALITY, nature’s shift and change and adaptation, nature’s response to our former, tired and boring ways of living wastefully. What will be the new dream home? Gone are the days of personal wealth fantasy manifestations of pomp and extreme ego driven waste and construction. Basically, get real, get elegant, get smart, get green, get reusable, and get going. The second driving question behind this project asks
what cause you will choose to support and give your time and energy to beyond your children, your aging parents and your job. Will you pick up a shovel, a camera, a pen and check, will you help doctors or relief workers, will you paint a house? If you are able bodied and minded, watching the news with a degree of passion and heartfelt concern for your fellow individual is not enough. If you are volunteering already, thank you. If you are a college student wondering what to do with your spring break, consider volunteer work as an option. It feels good and looks great on your bio.

Solid photojournalism inspires dialogue of the round table sort. So I invite you to let it begin this evening. Discuss your concerns for your island. Inform yourselves, find out the facts and see if there is room for your opinion in the newspapers, on the radio, in your classrooms. The problems borne from rising water levels aren’t packing a suitcase and moving on. They will stay right where you live and they will make themselves known. For now, these guests are still somewhat in disguise but soon your children will see evidence of coastal shifts between land and water lines. What will your community’s response to the inevitable environmental changes look like? How will we manifest our concerns and proactive solutions?

Let me see an exhibition on:

green/considerate/considered/eco-intelligent and cost-effective, user-friendly home designs for Puerto Rico and the specific conditions found on this island
by the art, architectural, design programs from all over Puerto Rico and from some of the other nearby islands. I want to see solar panels and wind harnesses and salt-resistant, durable but light materials that let in the air and the light.

Thank you for taking the time to come to this exhibition. It is a delight to share my work and receive feedback. It is a pleasure to see Casa Aboy alive and full of light and idea exchange. Casa Aboy has a long and interesting, elegant history. I am very honored to be a part of it.

Thank you for coming this evening.
Un abrazo fuerte.