Artist and writer Barbara Confino’s new series, Walkabout: The City As Image, explores urban life as a visual experience. Functioning as both cameraman and editor, the walker sees the physical and human environment as if it were a film in the making with its connections, contradictions, collage-like juxtapositions, and unexpected harmonies
For the first half of the 20th century in New York, Coney Island was the people’s paradise. The beach, the rides, the cheap food and cool air were the longed-for antidote to the city’s hot summers. Celebrated in endless stories, films, and photographs, Coney peaked during the 1940’s and has been going lazily downhill ever since. During the day, there is a slow, sad feeling about the place now, the kind that adheres to a woman who has had too much plastic surgery and whose skin sags no matter what. But at night she is still seductive, her lights hiding rather than revealing the dirt of the day, her visitors shining against the deep sea sky. Though the city keeps trying to make the place over in some god-awful Midwestern version of clean fun, it never takes. Coney remains New York’s unrepentant epicenter of exuberance and sleaze, of lowlife looking for trouble and children shrieking with glee. Today as much as yesterday, this tawdry icon of American life embraces newcomers of every nation and class, providing cheap thrills and a busman’s holiday to otherwise difficult lives.
Text and photos by Barbara Confino in New York; Friday, September 21, 2012
Barbara Confino is an artist and writer based in New York City. Her work has been featured at the Brooklyn Museum and is housed in such collections as the British Museum Library, the Bibliotheque Nationale de France and the Staatsbibliothek of Berlin. She is Associate Editor of the New York Photo Review, where she reviews the current photography scene. For two years she was Artist-In-Residence at New York’s Polytechnic University and she teaches at CUNY’s New York City College of Technology. Her installation, the Genetic Wars can be seen at www.thegeneticwars.com. Further writings of Barbara Confino can be found at perceptionsinpassing.com