Jason Langer: Twenty Years
Jason Langer has a new book, Twenty Years, published by Radius Books, that is a two decade symphony of dark, gestural photographs that at once reveal and conceal and have a soundtrack of solitary footsteps leading us down alleyways into places best seen after dark. The book is accompanied by a foreword by Julia Dolan, The Minor White Curator of Photography at the Portland Art Museum and texts by John Hill and Michael Schapiro.
Twenty Years includes many previously unpublished images, surrealist experimentation and figure studies, as well as his singular investigation of the city of Berlin. Jason’s photographic language has been variously described as “cinematic and poetic, haunting and romantic”. What draws me to his work is his mastery of noir and night and the sense that a whole other world reveals itself when the lights are out. As Julia Dolan states in her essay, “Langer pushes us, through the beauty of well-crafted imagery, to tangle with the tension that builds between life and death, and between an artist and his medium.”
American photographer Jason Langer (b. 1967) is best known for his psychological and noirish visions of contemporary urban life. He began making photographs in 1980. He has published two monographs: Secret City and Possession through Nazraeli Press. Jason
Langer: Twenty Years represents the first mid-career anthology of his work. His work has appeared in Harpers, Life, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Time, and Vanity Fair, among others. Also, Langer’s work can be found in the permanent collections of Rutgers University, Sir Elton John, Sir Mick Jagger, Yale University Art Gallery, and Zimmerli Art Museum. Langer is represented by Michael Shapiro (Westport, Connecticut), Michael Hoppen Gallery (London), Esther Woerdehoff (Paris), Charles A. Hartman, Fine Art (Portland, OR). Langer now lives with his family in Portland, Oregon.
For many years, I created and recreated the same photograph. It was, frankly, a compulsion, one rooted in a dissatisfaction with the world as I felt it to be and a deep feeling that there’s something more hiding before us in plain sight. This compulsion sent me exploring, often at night and sometimes at personal risk, along many hundreds of miles of city streets as well as inside the homes of acquaintances and strangers. Maybe it is that at the end of the day most people are winding down and become more self-reflective. Maybe it is the introspection that comes naturally as the sun goes down. During these last 20 years, I was particularly sensitive to the thoughts and feelings associated with this time of day, and with the nighttime, which easily brings mischief and our more primal natures.
When I look back on the last two decades of my photography what I see is an experience that mirrors the solitariness of my wanderings. The feeling I was only half conscious of at the time is that the truest, most authentic self is only revealed in isolation. For me, the social self is a mask. The photographs collected here are, simply put, a record of my attempt to penetrate the mask and expose some glimmer of the mystery beneath.
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