Monday, April 23, 2012

I.S.T.Y.O: A brief visual exploration of the project, part 1

Original photos, digital augmentation
& text by K.K.W 
I.S.T.Y.O: A brief visual exploration of the project.

In the shadow of the young ones / Vo senkata na mladite 
(A joint venture between 1 visual artist in New York City and 2 in Skopje, Macedonia.)

The theme: Exploring the Changing architecture and use of public space in New York city and Skopje Macedonia. New architecture taking over the landscape, young vs old, a battle of style, thought, and city planning. The disturbances 
these "young ones" cause within the minds of people, fans and critics is amazing. New York and Skopje's architecture has changed considerably in the last 10 years and will continue to change, but the question is how has, and how will those changes affect the people who live 
within these cities. 

Already there is a debate on over-consumption of energy by many of these buildings, the eventual displacement of long-time residents due to the influx of new residents, destruction of older buildings and whole sections, and all that come with it. Many of these buildings get huge tax breaks from their city, while being constructed cheaply(in some cases) and in low-income areas, sometimes causing rising prices as well the transplantation of different social norms, and ways of interacting. As many of these buildings or structures are taller then others, or frankly more important, they often cast their shadow over the older buildings. Hence the name of the exhibition, but more then this its a way of looking at them.

Photos courtesy of Matej Bogdanovski.
Photo courtesy of Matej Bogdanovski.
In addition to high-rises and other types
of new architecture, the people
have to contend with large amounts of
new monuments("Skopje 2014" project)

Photo courtesy of Matej Bogdanovski.

Photo courtesy of Matej Bogdanovski.
As you can see the actual statue is
much smaller in reality,
but thats the power of Matej's artwork.
He enlarges the monuments to show them
towering over the people and some of the buildings.
This becomes an expression of the
discontent & fear some have about them
and the project they spring from-
"Skopje 2014".
Skopje: Photo courtesy of
Meglena Visinska.

Skopje: Photo courtesy of
Meglena Visinska.
Meglena's photos seek to find and identify
the beauty and common aspects/features
 of modern architecture in Skopje,
which is both unseen and taken for granted
by most of the people of the city.
Her work represents the other side to the
coin that is Skopje today

Skopje: Photo courtesy of
Meglena Visinska.
NYC: Photo by K.K.W
photos seek to find and identify
the strange facets and common aspects/features
 of modern architecture in NYC.
His work is an exploration of
the positive and negative of many
new buildings that could be looked at in many ways.  

NYC: Photo by K.K.W
The people become less important,
being in ways overshadowed by these
"young ones", although the connection
between them is still constant-
the one without the other is pointless.

NYC: Photo by K.K.W

NYC: Photo by K.K.W

NYC: Photo by K.K.W

NYC(Bklyn): Photo by K.K.W.
This building is on crooke street.
My uncle use to live in the building
that was torn down to erect this one.

NYC(Bklyn): Photo by K.K.W
NYC: Photo by K.K.W

NYC: Photo by K.K.W

NYC: Photo by K.K.W

Skopje: Photos by Matej & Meglena,
digital augmentation by K.K.W

NYC: Photo by K.K.W

Skopje & NYC: Photos by Matej & K.K.W,
digital augmentation by K.K.W
If you would like to know more, go "Art is the reason, art is the way"

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I.S.T.Y.O: A brief exploration of the project, part 2

Photo, text,
and digital augmentation
by K.K.W
I.S.T.Y.O: A brief exploration of the project- part 2. By K.K.W

"An artist is not paid for his labor, but for his vision." (1) "The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spiders web." (2)
Korea-town sector,
NYC. Photos and digital
augmentation by K.K.W
Some have and still wonder why an architecture based project, and why choose to include or work with artists from Skopje, Macedonia? The fact is my association with, and friendship with those from Macedonia came about through the meeting of one of them, here in New York.

One of the 'elders',
20 exchange place.
Photo by K.K.W
Wall street sector.
Photo by K.K.W
There's no exact starting point, I didn't wake up one day an decided to create the project, or get to know people in Skopje. little by little it came to me. In 2011, sometime in late Feb- early March I started walking two small dogs(Buddy & Bella) for a young couple in the Wall street sector. I was already developing my skills in photography since late 2009(film, self-taught), and started carrying a small digital camera with me(a canon IXY). Looking closely at the architecture and cramped nature of the area, I started taking photographing some of the buildings.

Frankly I really like the area, the way its laid-out. And yet like all the other areas of NYC it has a...strange feeling to it, a vibe that is both positive and negative at the same time. The height of most of the buildings is such that you can't help but look up at them, and the distance between them is such that it makes for amazingly dramatic images. Also in some cases creates amazing shapes. The smaller size lens of the Canon IXY really heightens the effect and power of theses structures, giving them an added zing that is in a way exploring an aspect of their nature.

Suddenly every where I went these "young ones" and their "elders" cast some strange effect on me, so much so that photographing them became a pleasure. Soon after this point I met Ana Piponska, who had recently arrived from Skopje Macedonia. She had a allure to her, power all her own that was very charming to me. At the time I knew little of her country, past or present, only that its was the birth place of Alexander The Great (like certain other men I had come to hold him in high regard, not unlike Malcolm X, and other great individuals). As we began spending time together I became more and more interested in her people, especially since they were ethnically different from the original inhabitants of the country, but no less interesting. I've always had a strong love of history and the cultures of other, as much as my own.

Within a week of meeting her I came up with the name of the project, although I can't remember the exact moment or where I was. I do know that she was on my mind. The name can be looked at literally and figuratively, a verbal expression of an aspect of architecture in general. In a way most buildings and structures feed off of those who create them, come to know them (which is in a way love), and hate them as well. 

Buildings old or young, past or present absorb much of who we are and in the modern world, with the advent of electricity, consume energy, thus living much longer then most of us. Some are worn down by time, weather, and in many cases, human nature (violence, vandalism, etc). A select few go on age after age, others only for so long.

From late July 2011 to the present day I slowly came to know many people(most of them artist & musicians) from Skopje and elsewhere in Macedonia, through Facebook and by attending art-shows, exhibitions, and events at GalleryMC. Many of them are friends or associates of Ana. It didn't take long to see that I had much in common with most if not all of them: art, music, food, movies, and ways of looking at the world. I eventually started writing about and interviewing some of them for my art-blog, really trying to understand them.

The project was still in the back of my mind, but I had not really thought of implementing it in a realistic way. About two months ago I decided to ask a few of them (artists from Skopje) to take part in the project. I had come to understand how many of them felt about the recent architecture erected, in the modern style, and that which is a part of "Skopje 2014". So looking at the situation in both cities I realized how much there was in common, although for those in Macedonia its even more complicated and dangerous for them to voice any complaints.

Despite the differences between New York and Skopje, I believe that there is much we have in common, and therefore this should be explored through art, personal exchange about the subject, and all things connected to it. It is my hope that both sides can address the matter at hand concerning their cities, and come to a greater understand that may help to alleviate,  some of problems of this growing concern. "Art is the reason, art is the way"  If you would like to know more, go Quote #1- James Macneill Whistler, #2 Pablo Picasso. 
Wall street sector NYC.
Photo by K.K.W
Skopje Macedonia.
Original photos by
Matej Bogdanovski,
digitally augmented by K.K.W
Skopje Macedonia, original photo
and digital augmentation by Matej Bogdanovski 

Monday, April 9, 2012

I.S.T.Y.O: A brief exploration of the project, part 1

Photos and cover design
by K.K.W
I.S.T.Y.O: A brief exploration of the project, part 1. By K.K.W 

"Like doctors, there is a certain ethic of the architect: your not suppose to make anything worse." Says Aleksandar Mergold, architect and professor at Cornell university (#1).

Skopje, Macedonia.
Photo courtesy of Matej Bogdanovski
When you think about this statement and consider modern architecture, Skopje or New York city, its true and proper. However, as with so many things its also matter of opinion: that of the creator, the critic and viewer(s). And generally its the opinion of the powerful that counts.

In most major cities today new and recent architecture have many things in common- high use of glass or other similar materials, odd shapes and or style that sets them apart from their older counterparts. Depending on the structure or building in question they generally earn as much praise as contempt. And all have a hand, via their creators and backers, in the slow demise of their respective cities while creating something else at the same time. Hence the name of this project: In the shadow of the young ones/Vo senkata na mladite, a multi-media visual arts project, that seeks to examine this looming issue in New York and Skopje, involving artists from both cities.     
NYC: Columbia UN sector.
Photo by K.K.W
Both NYC and Skopje are experiencing large amounts of architectural construction though each for somewhat different reasons, depending on which buildings your speaking of. In the two cities its a matter of commercial, residential, and civic construction. Between the two NYC has more "Green" buildings and some that meet the 'LEED'(Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) design standards. For NYC architecture is mostly under the influence of "Modern style" with few exceptions. While in Skopje its the same, though with the added turn towards a "retro-simplistic" style for the city center and certain other areas. The designs for such in Skopje are based on classical elements that many view as 'kitschy' and turning the city into an eye-sore.    
Skopje, Macedonia.
Photo courtesy of Meglena Visinska 
The heart of the issue is architectural preservation vs change, political control and influence, style, economics and conformity. In NYC it boils down to many new residential buildings (cheap & expensive) leading to rapid and irreversible gentrification. For Skopje its construction of the 'kitsch' via heavy nationalism('Skopje 2014' project),  and what some would call wrongful use of funds that could go towards more important problems. The ruling political party, VMRO-DPMNE, in Macedonia fully backs the project, and at present it looms over the country like storm clouds ready to break. 

"Just when we thought that our dear government had reached the absolute heights of stupidity, they surprise us with going even higher!!! Hard to believe that anybody with at least some intelligence, sense of social responsibility and inkling of what is beauty could come up with such a nightmare vision STOP THEIR SKOPJE 2014, SAVE OUR SKOPJE NOW!" -Dana (#2)
"Jealousy and stupidity is the main reason that some people or opposition party sympathizer are against this project. The SDSM (opozition) party was ruling for 15 years and never built a single thing in Macedonia. My question is where did all that money go?
VMRO-DPMNE to current leading party has been actively building, rebuilding and fixing different infrastructures within Macedonia. The irony here is that the SDSM party is arguing against any kind of construction withing Skopje, the capital, because it would destroy the communist look of the city, which was actually designed after the big earthquake in 1963.
But their main concern is actually that they will never get back to power due to the fact that in 15 years of ruling, they never did anything for the people but fill up their own bank accounts and start-up their own businesses.
I fully support the Skopje 2014 project, and majority of Macedonians support it as well, beside what is being written here on this website." Goran (#3)

In NYC politics are intertwined with much of the new architecture, although its more behind the scenes. And yet it could be quite up-front depending on the building(s) in question. 'The Freedom Tower' is one major example of politics and architectural design given its ties to "9/11". On the one hand its part of the changing face of the city, and on the other its major political rallying point for many, with a touch of religious zeal.

"For the moron who rated this building a 1, go..... yourself!!! It's obvious you don't know anything about what happened at ground zero, so you have no right to say garbage!!! This building isn't just an office building, it's a symbol of American pride and perserverence! God bless!"  Alex (#4)

"i use to live in an european country called Latvia and I had never knew anything about 911 because i was young and the i got adopted in 2010 and I moved to USA. When i saw Rising Rebuilding ground 0 i started to cry it was so sad and i feel sorry for the people that died that day. But there was no way fire fighters could save them.They were heroes and I pray for all those souls that passed away that day Lord Bless America."  Matthew G. Harris (#5)

Its all these elements that make both cities so interesting when comparing their architecture,  and the effects they have on the people who live there. Love them, hate them, or ignore the matter all together, but these "young ones" are here to stay. If you would like to know more go (#2 & 3 taken from this post) (#4 & 5 taken from this post) #1 taken from "NY's most loathed architect: Its Karl Fischer, designer of glass boxes" by Maureen Callahan for the New York Post- online. 
"Art is the reason, art is the way" 

Skopje: original photos by
Matej Bogdanovski,
digital augmentation by K.K.W

NYC: Korea-town sector 32nd & B'way.
Photo by K.K.W