Sunday, 8 January 2017

Two takes on Queens
















Two heavyweight landscape photographers, Frank Gohlke and Joel Sternfeld, focus their lenses on Queens, the largest borough in New York and probably its most ethnically diverse. The cultural mix was one of the reasons for taking these photos back in 2003 (though there is no reference in the book as to why they were commissioned). What makes the book intriguing is that Gohlke's thirty-six photos are in mono and Sternfeld's thirty-seven in colour.

The photographers approached Queens in different ways, Gohlke concentrates on residential areas, parks, expressways and the landscape, Sternfeld covers the retail units that serve the immigrant communities so his photos are full of eye-catching commercial signage and foreign language typography. Nearly all the photos are a record of domestic and commercial east coast architecture, especially Gohlke's contribution. An interesting minor feature of the book is that all the locations are precisely captioned and it's possible, using Street View, to still find a few buildings that are still the same as when they were photographed in 2003.

Pasted inside the back cover is an envelope with a thirty-six page booklet with an essay: What is remembered by Suketu Mehta, a bit too esoteric in my view and only very loosely connected to the fascinating pictures throughout the book.

The titles large landscape size has all the photos on the right-hand page, printed on a matt gloss with a 175 screen (in other words the usual excellent Steidl production). For the residents of Queens here's a book of photos of your borough by two of America's great photographers, the rest of us can just enjoy looking at them.


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