Friday, April 22, 2011

Limited View

The window had been painted over with black, but a broken pane made a hole through which one could see the street below. Through this frame a photographer aimed his camera and captured life as it passed by.

The Jazz Loft Project: W. Eugene Smith in New York City, 1957-1965 is currently on display at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University until July 10, 2011. The exhibition features an array of photography and audio recordings of many big name jazz musicians. The originally planned three-week project became the unfinished four-year obsession of Smith. Exposing over a thousand rolls of film and audio reels Smith documented an astounding part of cultural history.

Like the camera he aimed at the street below, Smith set up shop in a five-story loft building, capturing the people and music that gravitated to the location. It is staggering the amount of work Smith produced while in this one location. Though his range was limited, the richness of what he recorded was not. Numerous musicians, as well as other interesting and sometimes questionable characters, came and went from the building. Life continued outside, even as the camera kept vigil. Even as the location stayed the same, the photographs show an ever changing, dynamic environment.

-Veronica Monique Ibarra

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