Rick Schatzberg: The Boys
Rick Schatzberg and I began e-mailing about today’s post back in July–he had recently graduated from the University of Hartford with an MFA and had a new project The Boys, about friendship, memory, loss, and the inner narrations we carry through the years. I had just seen the movie Three Identical Strangers and his project hit a chord with me. Over these past nine months the project has morphed into book form and I wish I could share the entire effort today, as it is a wonderful expression of self, place, and personal history reflected through his memories and life long friendships.
The journey starts off with place–the artist providing the backdrop of his growing up, and then moves us between the past and the present, with portraits of men who shaped his life. In between are writings that reveal the tenderness of remembrance, looking back to his youth and vitality in juxtaposition to the beginnings of a new incarnation of aging and loss. His contemporary portraits are soulful, quiet, and remarkably intimate and revealing.
He states about his process: “I chose to make the contemporary portraits with a large format view camera and natural light. Much has been said and written about the way that film slows you down in comparison to digital — particularly with a view camera – and how this impacts the relationship with the subject, framing decisions, etc. This is, of course, true. But the point that shouldn’t be lost in technical decisions like this, is that it’s not just a matter of technique or style. It is language.
And if the language I use is intelligible, I hope the work will remind people of something they already know, and think is worth remembering.”
Rick Schatzberg is a photographer living and making work in Brooklyn, New York and Norfolk, Connecticut. He received an MFA in Photography from the Hartford Art School in 2018. His first monograph, Twenty Two North (self-published), was awarded first prize at Australia’s Ballarat Foto International Biennale (2015). Rick has had a varied career: he holds a degree from Columbia University in Anthropology (1978), played French horn with Cecil Taylor’s jazz ensemble in 1970s, and was a business executive and entrepreneur in the New York metropolitan area for many years. He left the corporate world several years ago to pursue his photography practice on a full-time basis.
The Boys: Project Statement
The Boys is a memoir in pictures and words. After two old friends died unexpectedly, I spent the next year photographing our remaining group of a dozen men. Now in our 65th year, we have been close since early childhood. I collected vintage photos that tell the story of this shared history and use them to introduce each individual as they are today. With my large format camera and available light, I made portraits searching for what connects the boy to the man. Mixing text and images, I depict friendship, aging, mortality, and memory as we arrive at the threshold of old age.
From the outset I envisioned that the vessel for this work would be a book, where the juxtaposed sequence of images and text would be the primary artwork rather than the row of prints on the gallery wall.
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