Monday, 8 June 2009

featuring drew thomas levy

'featuring' is a way of exposing the work and thoughts of a contemporary photographer
mostly it's a summary of a communication (live chat, interview, email, phonecall...) through which i tried to find answers on questions or to let the artist explain the idea behind an image

i noticed the photography of drew thomas levy some time ago on the internet
from the beginning i knew there was something special with this images
drew approaches his streetsubjects in a different way,
with a whole lot of consideration
keywords in his photographical life are memory, faith, time and loss...

© drew thomas levy

I took the photograph above on Lancaster Avenue in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I took it outside a Haitian church. The church is housed in an old movie theater. They used to call movies motion pictures and before that magic picture plays. Those long threads of association may seem extraneous or even irrelevant, but they are the kinds of things I am thinking and chasing while I walk about taking photographs.

I first noticed this storefront church in the early morning, before the sun was falling across its facade. I locked my bicycle to a post across the street and walked away, off to spend the morning and early afternoon taking pictures. Several hours later when I returned to my bicycle, the westward-facing side of Lancaster Avenue had been transformed. The high, hot summer sun was pounding down on the storefront church, reflecting off its metallic surfaces. I made my way through the traffic to the other side of the street and set out to frame a photograph.

I remember the heat of the concrete as I kneeled down on the sidewalk to take this photograph. I remember thinking about the extremes of the light, not knowing exactly what the photograph would look like and yet trusting that it would work. I was conscious of my own reflection, but not of the reflections in their entirety: of the parking meter, the car, and the building that all work together to add earth to the heavens. I remember worrying about the words on the bottom of the poster and whether they would be legible in the photograph; I remember deciding it didn't matter.

I re-crossed the street, loaded up my two cameras in my bag, unlocked my bike, put on my helmet and began peddling home. As I rode, I kept thinking of this photograph, kept hoping I had managed to craft what I had seen. We talk about taking, capturing, even shooting photographs. These metaphors are as old as photography itself. And yet as I thought about this scene and this image on my bike, and even as I think of them now, I was thinking about translation. Photography offers to me over and over again the gift of the world's unexpected beauty and complexity and resonance and what I wanted more than anything as I made this photograph, as I make any of my photographs, is to translate an impression, the light, color, poetry. And when I am lucky, and that day on Lancaster Avenue I was very, very lucky indeed, photography allows me to translate what I see and experience and try to comprehend, it allows me to share my world with others.

In one way or another, I think all of my photographs are about memory, faith, time, and loss.

It's difficult to choose a single image. Difficult in the same kind of way that answering the question "what's your photography about" is difficult. Then again, for some people that question isn't difficult at all: "artist's statements" are a dime a dozen.

I live in Albany, NY, together with my partner Holly and my newborn child Daniel.
Albany is straight up the Hudson River from New York City.


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