Thursday, February 20, 2020

GHOST WALTZ, Volume 1: NYC, Acquainted With the Night, Photo essay by Diana Rivera

Photo Essay. I love photography that begins where words
 leave off. This work is visual poetry, evoking feelings and sight 
below the surface of consciousnes, while showing what we think
we know in one moment of time. Begin this walk. This
is an excerpt of a longer series to be savored some night.

On a Darkened Night, SoHo 2018

GHOST WALTZ, Volume 1: "Acquainted With the Night" by Diana A. Rivera

New York City's architecture is full of layers of history. Rabid development continues to destroy historical buildings at an unprecedented rate. My current urban photography series Ghost Waltz was born from searching for New York City's past eras before they vanish. This series explores different neighborhoods and their singular atmospheres; Downtown’s gritty patrician buildings; Midtown’s unearthly heights; Uptown’s broad swathes of recognizable yet hidden historical elegance. With influences such as Brassaï, silent films and spirituality, I photograph the city in a manner that recalls modernist, early 20th century photography. The view is familiar and otherworldly, as layers of the past come forward; the present recedes in an insubstantial instant.

Toward the Light, 8th Ave., 2018

With Volume 1, I examine the overwhelming psychic effect of being inside “the belly of the beast” through the juxtaposition of shadows with light, movement with static, and silhouette with semblance. Shot on 35mm monochrome film. the grain reflects the grittiness of the urban landscape and the resulting existential crisis one may encounter in such a mystifying environment. Silhouettes walk towards city lights; lone figures that whose alienation emphasizes the dissonance of city life as they walk amid historical structures whose decorative elements seem alien in a modern world built of cold glass and hard steel. Through this lens I analyze the theory that human beings are in their essence living spirits — ephemera within the continuum of time and space.

Silhouette, Irving Place, Union Square 2018

The title of Volume 1 is taken by a poem from Robert Frost, which best encapsulates the atmosphere of this work:

“Acquainted with the Night

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.”

Under the Neon Light, 9th Street 2018

Beyond the Smoke, Washington Square 2018

Diana A. Rivera is an American photographer whose distinctive imagery explores the existential concepts of isolation, dislocation, and mortality in the modern world. Born in 1981, Diana is a self-taught photographer whose original academic discipline was fashion design and illustration. Inspired by her late father, Sucre, she picked up the camera in 2011. This interest led her to a business in event photography, where she spent 8 years observing and capturing intimate moments at high energy events. Her switch to artistic photography began in 2017 with her inaugural work Catharsis: She Moon. In Catharsis, Diana documents performance artists in a rehearsal for a one night only show that tells the feminist tale of society's persecution of queer people using magic and paganism. This body of work remains resonant with the current zeitgeist.

Branching from digital, Diana has embraced traditional 35mm and medium format photography, along with traditional and alternative darkroom processes. Influenced by the New York School photographers of the mid-20th century,  she embarked on her ongoing project Ghost Waltz in 2018; a work on 35mm film that searches for the atmosphere of the past within the rapidly changing metropolis. Capturing haunting night-time scenes that are at once arresting and disorienting, her photographs reveal the many historic layers of the urban landscape, reminding us that existence is ephemera within the dimension of time and space. She is currently working on a series of Requiems as part of Ghost Waltz; homages to immortal men and women who have left an eternal imprint on the historical psyche of New York City and its inhabitants.

Diana still lives and works in New York City. Her work can be found on her website and LensCulture.

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