Ira Wagner

© Ira Wagner

In Superior Apartments I sought to capture and present the complex layers of development that have taken place in the Bronx — a virtual laboratory of urban development.   In its history, the Bronx has had dramatic cycles of promise, possibility, loss and revival.  For much of its history since becoming part of New York City in the late 1800’s, the Bronx, with its solid brick apartment buildings and homes, was a step up the ladder for recent immigrants.  In the 1920’s, apartment construction flourished along the Grand Concourse (the borough’s “Champs Elysee”), producing the nation’s largest collection of art-deco buildings.  But by the 1970’s, the Bronx became synonymous with urban decline.  Despite changes that have taken place since that time, the reputation of the Bronx has largely remained frozen.  In Superior Apartments I try to look at the Bronx objectively as it exists now.  While some of the photographs in this project include places that have become run-down, Superior Apartments is not a photographic study of urban ruin and decline.  Instead, it is a presentation of the range, chaos, irony, richness and beauty of the urban landscape.

— Ira Wagner, Montclair, New Jersey, USA

© Ira Wagner

© Ira Wagner3

Alexander Diaz

© Alexander Diaz

The city of Rome is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world with its magnificent churches, ancient ruins, and picturesque views. These defining characteristics entice millions of visitors to Rome each year resulting in a city overflowing with tourists. Among the congestion and noise of the city, flows the Tiber River, which is segregated from its urban environment due its low elevation and towering embankments.  As a result, the river and its environs are underutilized, poorly maintained, and starkly different from the bustling streets of Rome.
The area between the river’s embankments is an intermediate zone where nature and culture converge. The unique ecosystem of the Tiber is complex and quite fascinating. Although the river is inundated with trash and contaminated from the city’s runoff, nevertheless it continues to provide habitat to a variety of animals as well as offers refuge for many of the city’s inhabitants, especially the homeless. The Tiber River represents the resiliency of nature and provides a framework for tourists and locals alike to contemplate the relationship humans have with the natural world.

— Alexander Diaz, St. Augustine, Florida

© Alexander Diaz

© Alexander Diaz3

Luca Orsi

DEC 16 Luca Orsi

To me photographing is telling a story through the subjects of reality, creating impressions and fascination that generates questions from the people who look at my pictures. If a simple picture can generate questions in a person who then tries to know more about what he is looking at, this is simply great. This is the purpose of this project Atmospheres: trying to represent the empty urban scenes in a nocturnal mood. A mood made of contrast, rarefied lives, bright lights and gloomy shadows, quietness and tension. Everything takes on a mystical charm which is so colorful but also dark, and all seems magical and suspended as if time were frozen. This series of urban landscapes tries to explain, (through the beauty of the night’s atmospheres) the wonderful charm of the unknown.

— Luca Orsi, Varese, Italy

© Luca Orsi

© Luca Orsi3

Max Ross

© Max Ross

Clearfield is a portrait of a Pennsylvania town in the process of losing its local businesses to competition from international superstores, such as Walmart. Clearfield is an excellent example of what is lost culturally when town centers are abandoned for megastores, because of its long history and uniquely American roots.  Here you can find pristine examples of early American homes and WPA buildings, 50’s era movie theaters, and remnants of hundred-year-old unions and associations.  Furthermore, these institutions’ history continues to play a vital role in the lives of the citizens of this rural manufacturing town to this day. Unfortunately, if the town center economically fails, the architecture where so much of its values reside will likely go with it, to be replaced by the curiously a-historical environments of mega-marts.

— Max Ross, Evanston, Illinois

© Max Ross

© Max Ross3

Book Review: Tōhoku

Hans-Christian Schink

Tōhoku, by Hans-Christian Schink

Schink, a German landscape photographer, returned in 2012 to the scene of a tsunami that devastated Japan a year before. He photographed the Tōhoku region, where the worst damage occurred.

The opening images of his book are filled with snow, where nature has blanketed scenes of disaster. These pictures are dreamlike: surfers stretch on a snow-covered beach, preparing to enter icy waters already filled with over a dozen surfers. Schink favors a milky-white sky, which blends together with the ground in the snow scenes. This creates a sense of dislocation that perfectly suits his subject.

Many of the pictures are mysteries. We truly don’t know what we’re looking at. Others document houses tossed off their foundations, rows of empty lots — surely once occupied — and vacant fields. There is a bus on top of a two-story building, calmly upright as if parked there.

Schink’s images beg for enlargement, as the smallest details are often key to their understanding. They are presented at 8×10″ in the book, but would be best at 4 by 5 feet, at least, as Schink often stands a great distance from his subjects.

The book was published by Hatje Cantz.

© Hans-Christian Schink

© Hans-Christian Schink3

Karina Azaretzky

© Karina Azaretzky

I was born in Tucumán, Argentina, a city known as “the garden of the Republic,” because of its vast natural beauty. That land left a mark on me with its greenness, its silence and its light. I grew up among the mountains, surrounded by yungas, between the leafiness of the jungle and the dryness of the valleys.

It was almost without noticing it that the geography of those scenarios started to leave its fingerprints in my subjectivity, shaping my sight.

Today, in the distance, the memories of my hometown emerge as flashes that guide my steps.

These photographs, part of a project titled The Garden, were taken in Buenos Aires’s Botanical Garden, as an attempt to find that light and greenness again. By doing so, I realized that in the end it is always about the same inner landscape that I take with me wherever I go.

— Karina Azaretzky, Buenos Aires, Argentina

© Karina Azaretzky

© Karina Azaretzky3