LONDON.- Michael Hoppen Contemporary presents Tod Papageorge - Passing Through Eden, on view 7th March 19th April 2008. This will be the first UK solo exhibition of work by Tod Papageorge. Taken between 1969 and 1991, these black and white photographs capture the primeval character of Central Park, the human tragedy and comedy in this particular vision of Eden.
During the 1970s, when Papageorge began to work on this series, Central Park was portrayed as a dangerous place not to be visited after dark. These photographs depict a different view showing innocence, beauty, ugliness, isolation, chaos and humour - the whole scope of human life on view within the park. Papageorge parallels this series with the first four books of Genesis, pulling the disparate images together by presenting the park as a public Eden, his elegy to a lost Elysium. This projected narrative lends the photographs structure and gravity: the audience can recognise Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel in various guises acting out their elemental roles in our commonplace world.
Initially, Papageorges project was driven less by a fascination with Central Park than by the desire to utilise a particular camera (a 6 x 9 cm Fujica) that was too cumbersome for the citys streets. He found within the park an intense and palpable realm of bodies, action and objects. Daily photographic excursions alongside Garry Winogrand and Joel Meyerowitz on the streets of New York had honed his abilities to both anticipate and capture great photographic moments within the disorder of the park.
Established as an articulate and influential critic and teacher of others work, Papageorges own photographs have rarely been in the spotlight. Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Photography at Yale School Art since 1979, he has taught many of the strongest American photographers of the past three decades, including Abelardo Morell, Gregory Crewdson, Anna Gaskell and Katy Grannan. This re-examination of Papageorges photography has been prompted by the recent reconsideration of work by his peersWinogrand by the ICP, Friedlander by the MOMA and Stephen Shore by the ICP. Earlier this year Papageorge exhibited in New York for the first time in 25 years and Steidl published the first monograph of his work, Passing through Eden, Photographs of Central Park.
Mid-sprint, mid-morning- into the park
and downtown through the shimmering air,
each flush and pulse of light flashing quicksilver
through a net of dust, leaf and pollen.
Step by step, a camera hanging from my neck
Beats my heart.
Green like the incontrovertible season,
I move through the high, untended two-tipped grass,
Supplicant, trainee, hunter, mule,
Out here to photograph,
To call this intoxication to account
And press these lawns and palings
Tod Papageorge from a notebook dated 1978.
Papageorges work can be found in museums both in the United States and Europe including The Art Institute of Chicago; The Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris; The Canadian Center of Architecture, Montreal; The Center for Creative Photography, Tucson; The George Eastman House, Rochester; The Kunsthaus, Zurich; The Moderna Museet, Stockholm; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Aperture will shortly publish American Sports, 1970. This body of work was made during Papageorges travels across the country on a Guggenheim Grant and documents major national sporting events during the height of the Vietnam War.
To coincide with this exhibition at Michael Hoppen Contemporary, Papageorge will give a talk at the V&A The Making of Photographer on Friday 7th March as part of their Friday evening events.