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I was Unaware of the Far Reaching Moment: reading photographs

1979 NYC

seated, were six people seen
through the grim window of subway train 696
stopped at the 42nd street platform.
one woman wears a wide brimmed straw hat,
possibly being the spring
on her way to another country.

one moment later

standing, from Hudson and 9th
slick wet asphalt dissolves into history’s cobbles
fronting a nicotine’d building triangulating
the intersection perfectly lined by empty
delivery trucks. a riderless bus idles hope
synchronized traffic lights motion blankly
forward – their green reminding no one
of spring once lived.

moments before in 1973

staring, a bearded tall man observes the scene
unfolding on the corner of 5th ave and 42nd st.
a photographer, recording an older gentleman, bespectacled
and bespoked, looking askew at 5 Hari-Krishna followers
playing musical instruments. a Ryder rental truck waits
but no one is sampling the Russell Stover candies
purchased with spring-turned fancies.

in between moments 1976

jumping, one man in celebration
of a sliver weak of winter sun
piercing the angles between tall buildings
guarding a frontal assault of central park.
his shadow follows suit.

I was Unaware of the Far Reaching Moment: reading photographs


Concord, United States

  • Artist
  • Artwork Comments 7

Artist's Description

Impressions recorded while observing several John Rosenthal photographs hanging in our gallery. Each image recorded in black and white, leaves me imagining a world without flowers. But of course, there are flowers. In the artist bio the gallery gives out, Rosenthal says he dislikes candid images that give the viewer license to put upon the persons any expectations the viewer desires. For this reason he engages the people in his work, at some level, so that they are not left unaware that a moment of their lives has been recorded. Yet, to some extent, this is what art asks us to do: to engage personally with the world from the context of our own experiences, without knowing the artist’s intentions for their work. And in fact, we do this countless times everyday in art and in life. In the image of the 5 Hari-Krishna men and the passer-by, we are asked to put ourselves into the scene as both observer and participant, just as the bearded man looking directly into the camera does; to look at our feelings about those whose viewpoints are and are not our own, and then ask ourselves, “are we being honest in how we engage strangers in our private thoughts?” To view the scene is to offer our own judgement of the experience unwillingly frozen within eternal motion. The photographs also ask another question: at what point, if ever, does our singular privacy become public policy? Does merely ‘being bodily present’ in public space give license to make my image and thoughts public, or does it require more than presence, does it require some type of physical interaction regarding choice? The answer depends, perhaps, on one’s understanding of consciousness, and perceptions of individuality within shared concepts. Of course, they could just be nice pictures. Sometimes a green monkey wearing a fireman’s hat riding a red bicycle is still just a monkey. (See the latest work of Reynaldo)

Artwork Comments

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