City Stages, photographs by Matthew Pillsbury
Exhibition on view:
February 20–March 27
547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor
New York, N.Y. 10001
City Stages offers a paean to the craft and visionary potential of large-format, black and-white photography, as well as to the vibrancy of the cultural landscape at a transitional moment—a moment in which our very relationship to that landscape is increasingly mediated by omnipresent screens.
Over the past decade, Matthew Pillsbury has built several extensive bodies of work—Screen Lives, Hours, and City Stages—that deal with different facets of contemporary metropolitan life and the passage of time. Working with black-and-white, 8-by-10 film and long exposures, Pillsbury captures a range of psychologically charged experiences in the urban environment, from isolation—tuned into the omnipresent screens of our tablets, laptops, televisions, and phones—to crowded museums, parades, cathedrals, and even protests.
Working primarily in New York but with forays to Paris, London, Venice, and other sites, the precise and concrete rendering of cityscapes, iconic landmarks, and interior spaces in his images provides a stage-like setting for the performance of human activity. Thanks to the extended exposures—some as long as an hour—the actions of both individuals and crowds are blurred and transformed into pure gesture and energy.
As writer Karl E. Johnson comments on the work, “For Pillsbury, the act of seeing appears to double as a performance, if no more than the performance of life enacted in various spaces and timeframes.” This exhibition gathers selections from all three bodies of work for the first time, and spans ten years of the artist’s output.