Rick Schatzberg: Twenty Two North
Rick Schatzberg’s most recent work, Twenty Two North, continues a legacy of examining the built and natural landscape. For this project, Rick traverses one road over time, each trip revealing new discoveries and nuances of the landscape. His consideration of Highway Twenty Two North allows him to understand the use of the land, the history that it shares, and the passage of time. His photographs are at once familiar, yet full of surprise, each one building a narrative that beautifully documents place. He has also published a book under the same title, Twenty Two North.
Rick Schatzberg’s photographs reflect his fascination with exploring and describing places, which he sees as a combination of geography, ethnography, imagination, and autobiography. He is based in Brooklyn Heights, NY and Norfolk, CT.
A graduate of the General Studies program at International Center of Photography in 2015, Rick has had a varied career. He holds a degree from Columbia University in Anthropology, studied and played French horn with Cecil Taylor’s Black Music Ensemble in Yellow Springs, Ohio in the 1970s, and spent more than thirty years as an executive and entrepreneur in the publishing and health care industries.
As a migrant from a corporate career, Rick is engaged in his photography practice on a full-time basis. His recent photo book, Twenty Two North, won first prize in the “One for the Books” contest in Australia’s Ballarat Foto International Biennale (BFIB’15). Rick’s current project, Gaining Ground, continues his work photographing the human and physical landscape along Route 22 in Upstate New York.
Twenty Two North
For nearly two years I have been photographing the human and physical landscape along Route 22, an historic, mostly rural road connecting New York City and Canada. I explore this unassuming, upstate New York corridor in all seasons and weather as a way to understand a place as process, rather than fact. The idea for this work, which is called Twenty Two North, came about at a time when my wife and I were making frequent trips along a particular 100-mile stretch of NY22 to visit our son in Vermont. I was drawn to this old road for several reasons. The route from the Bronx to the North Country was filled with contrasts and contradictions that defied easy description. Large sections seemed emblematic of a place that was once important, where agriculture or industry had flourished and then migrated elsewhere leaving behind scars and a shaky economy. But closer examination revealed stories not just of the past, but also of an energetic present, of lives shaped by and still shaping a landscape. I treat the road as a metaphor for the narrative journey, but in a larger sense picture-making itself is a metaphor for the provisional and incomplete nature of knowledge, the result of having only fragments of information. Taking the time to share in the experience of people in the landscape, my photographs exist as subjective and incomplete evidence of these fragmentary encounters. I am informed by the photographic road trip genre, from Berenice Abbott and Robert Frank in the 1950s to Alec Soth in the present, but my work departs from the tradition of quickly moving through America. Like improvisational music, my small- and large- camera photographs, and more recently sound recordings, build and reinterpret a place through repeated sessions. Human subjectivity, color, light, chance, and movement are the elements that help me describe an environment in flux.
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