Tod Papageorge

My eye was caught by this photo in a Guardian feature on the Deutsche-Borse Photography Prize exhibition on currently in London. Tod Papageorge is a photographer new to me, but I really like these that he’s exhibiting at the Photographers’ Gallery under the title, Passing Through Eden: Photographs of Central Park.

From the Telegraph review of the exhibition:

Central Park in New York has been many things to photographers and filmmakers, but few have characterised it as a garden of Eden. Tod Papageorge, the American photographer, walked the ‘high, untended tow-tipped grass’ (as he writes) of the location during the years 1962 to 1996. The experience produced his exhibition, Passing Through Eden: Photographs of Central Park, which gained him a place on the shortlist of four photographers nominated for the Deutsche Börse Prize 2009. ‘We all carry our imaginary heavens around us,’ he comments in the catalogue (published by Steidl). ‘These Elysian fields so closely resembled those I encountered in the park.’ The photographer’s heaven is in black and white. ‘Even today, in our digitally processed, colour-enhanced image-world, I remain enraptured by the pitch of abstraction it gives to pictures,’ he told me.

Observing people at private moments that are usually unobserved, the photographer is essentially non-judgmental as far as his subjects are concerned and, so long as the lighting and composition is right, he tells it as he finds it. In general, the picture is of a place where human nature lets its hair down on grass or bench. One shot taken in 1969 illustrates one of the sidelights on the coverage – apart from anything else it is decade-stamped in sartorial matters. A recurrent theme is of loneliness and alienation – many individuals caught in the lens appear to be a long way from Eden.

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