30 large-scale cityscapes, devoid of people: tranquil, cryptic. Elusive glimpses of 'the city that never sleeps' in a rare state of dormancy. "These photographs have a strong emotional aura, you have a very rich and sensual tonality and a very plastic quality that really changes our perception of architecture," the curator of the collection cuts into our hypnagogic trance.
Photography expert Ira Stehmann acquaints Crane.tv with the man behind the lens: Christopher Thomas, "he wanted to go back to the roots of photography." As Thomas' representative and co-editor of his book 'New York Sleeps' she was able to explain the award-winning photographer's desire to escape from the grips of working under the restraints of commercial photography, away from overwhelming 20-man teams, unrelenting time schedules, a deprivation of freedom. All resolved with the help of a large-format camera, a selection of Polaroid 55 peripherals, the classical tripod and some black cloth.
Thomas became known as an artist for his "Münchner Elegien" (Munich Elegies) series exhibited in 2006 at the Fotomuseum München. It was there our expert took full interest in his creations, "I was very impressed because of the contemplative qualities of his work, I asked him what the next sleep portrait would be and he wasn't sure if he would do any." Stehmann recounts how Thomas suddenly remembered a set of photographs he'd produced back in 2001 in New York. "I was totally amazed when he came up with seven photographs; I phoned the publishing house Prestel and then Christopher was forced to go back to New York to complete his series."
A silent, static documentary: a decade of slightly disturbing 'perfect moments' that is not the rowdy, noisy New York as we know it, but instead a sight of unfamiliar, chilling stillness. The poignant shots shown at The Wapping Project Bankside gallery seem part architectural studies, part neo-romantic images depicting abandonment, the choice of black and white photography aiding the process of abstraction. Casting our focus on an image of New York's landmark Brooklyn Bridge, also on the cover of the book 'New York Sleeps,' "Christopher picked it out because of the long exposures, you get the nice qualities of details and preciseness." As we begin to leave we're adverted to a faint form of the photographer within one of his own snapshots - and question if it's in an ironic cry of self-ambush against the ghostly void of his own carefully concocted settings, his 'sleeping' city.
Text by Carmen Ho for Crane.tv
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