Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wish You Were Here

Title of your piece: Bordertown
Medium: Collage
Location: Lower Merion and Philadelphia

Do I wish you were here?
Do you?
If you live on the west side of City Line Avenue, the answer is a resounding "yes." Sprawling mansions rest comfortably amidst lawns of a surreal green. The boutiques in the carefully maintained little towns sell watches that cost more than many cars, the quaint storefronts have an array of designer fashions. The only faces that are dark skinned are the nannies pushing their towheaded charges, or the men wielding the leaf blowers. They stop when you pass on the sidewalk.

Wish you were here?

Walk a block east, though, and everything is different.


aRae said...

Fantastic work... i first looked at the collage, enlarged, it was not as i expected, first glance i expected gentle community snap shots, but they SPOKE volumns, your description was almost like a comfort blanket, telling me i hadnt imagined wrongly when i first looked at the work, the divide ! wow
great peice..

maggieuibhist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
maggie said...

Capitalism in the visual, you sound very interesting. I’d feel very uncomfortable living somewhere with such a class system, equality is very important.

norcrossl said...

Viewing this piece, I really got a sense of where you live and what it's about. It is interesting how you have arranged the people according to their role in your area.

lebuck8 said...

I recognized many of the images in your collage as I live around Ardmore. You captured the area well.
Lauren B.

Sam said...

The photographs used really capture the area. The way they are collaged truly reveals a story and you are forced to look deeper.

gracki said...

This is a really powerful collage that really has viewers look carefully. I also love the questions you ask to the viewer as they look at the collage.
Great work.

Christy Hahn said...


I feel like your imagery mimicked your explanation of its meaning very successfully. Just as you mentioned how quickly comfort and security can change by walking one block, your imagery changes abruptly as the eye moves across the image. I also like that you chose newspaper images or gave it a newspaper like effect, since the image has a social opinion of its own.

rodlef said...

Firstly, your strong opinions spark much curiosity. I think your statements (with the aid of your image) seem to encompass a type of frustration that (college-going) persons of our generation (and more particularly our geography) are facing. The strengths of your image (I feel) lie in the matter-of-fact quality of all of your photographs (and this of course is aided by the manner in which you collaged them). When viewing both the work and the description, one cannot help but feel the frustration of overt hypocrisy without any clear resolution in sight. Your post (both image and description in tandem) is quite 'felt.'

In response to your comments questions on my work: I'm not quite sure what you meant by 'laugh.' To expand on my description some, although I don't usually do this, my sense of place is less the physical or social make-up of a specific time/place and more the motives or ideas that make up a time/place. I've found that there are typically dueling motives or intentions within any place and time, and these motives/intentions are in constant competition with one another. These can be called contradictions in order to suit your clarifying questions. Furthermore, I believe these contradictions in thought/idea/intention/motive (what have you) to be absolutely necessary and perfectly adherent to human nature. As for my comment about the relativity of things, in the sense that things can have an 'essence,' I believe that there 'essence' is given form by the direct opposition of what the thing is not. (e.g. A chair is defined by the material that makes it, legs-seat-backing, as well as its surrounding information, all that is not the chair.)

More importantly, I truly appreciate your comments and inquiry. Perhaps we should converse at greater length in the future. Thank you.

~ Bryan

Bryan said...

On another note:
I just read your 'teaching philosophy.' It's quite nice. You're a good thinker and a talented writer. Of course, anyone who quotes Eliot with any relevance should garner some respect. I wonder, what do you think about Art as an academic endeavor as well as an endeavor of the expressed?

~ Bryan

jmkilburn said...

Before I knew where I was going, or how to get anywhere, I used to drive all the way up Lancaster Ave. from Drexel all the way to Bryn Mawr, where my then-girlfriend-now-wife goes to school. So I'm way too familiar with the dividing line that you can experience when just crossing one particular street. Your piece displays a lot of discomfort with that inequity. Of particular interest to me is the photo of Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild (with pearls), "international financier who splits her time between New York City and London," who isn't about to vote for Barack Obama because HE'S the elitist. You just can't make that s**t up!!

ChambersoftheSea said...

Thank you all for your kind comments. I've responded to some of you on your own blogs.

Collage isn't my medium of choice, and I felt a little constrained both by it and by the subject matter. There is a an assumed kind of...tenderness, I guess, in a project called "Wish you were here," and asking you to do a piece about your home. This is something I just don't feel about this place.

It's gratifying that some people, Lauren and jmkilburn have a sense of my home, having physically seen it, and even more gratifying that somehow I managed to convey it to people who haven't.

Amy said...

The image is very interesting. I thought at first you were praising the area but after reading all your coments it seems you don't care for it. The dividedness bothers you. And it should!

Christy Hahn said...

Hi Julian,

Thanks for commenting on "Sanctuary". For most of my life, I have always shied away from settling down. Now that I finally have, it's a dream come true. I'm glad you felt what I was trying to convey.

Art Ed Guy said...

A number of students, including myself, have used collage elements in their reponses to this theme - and I think how appropriate it is when if the city is anything, it is a variety of architecture, different races - children - adults - senior citizens. What makes the city rich is its own special brand of everything. A first class city can have so many things - things that contradict each other in scale and color, race and nationality, historic and modern. The images in your collage represent some of these characteristics quite effectively. The city is a collage, and from neighborhood to neighborhood the collage can change quite a bit.

jmkilburn said...

Thank you for your comment on my WYWH. Seeing somewhere you love from a distance is breath-taking... but seeing somewhere you have a bit of dread for from a distance gives you another feeling! Once I got out of the area I was in, and put myself back into a level of comfort and a standard of living I wanted, things have been much better.

Rita G said...

This really hints at the many cultures present in this city. I really like the image of the Jewish men.