Astrid Yerhoef's "Urbanite04" is one of the resolutions on display at the New York Photo Festival starting this weekend. Credit: Provided
Each new year comes with resolutions for a better self. Sensing the opportunity, the New York Photo Festival sent out a call to artists for those oaths represented photographically, according to each one’s concept of the idea. By the end of January, around 300 submissions were received, from which 21 finalists were selected by judges John Berthot, founder of Focus Consulting Services, and Daniel Power, founder and CEO of powerHouse Books.
The work of all finalists goes on display at the powerHouse Arena in DUMBO beginning this weekend. Unlike many art shows in crowded New York, space is not an issue. The exhibition area on the arena floor covers 5,000 square feet and is capped by 24-foot ceilings. Power considers the lofty space a definite plus. “Whenever you view an exhibition in a large gallery or museum, the massive height of the exhibition hall or arena makes the artwork that much grander.”
Raising the sights of “Resolution”’s attendees also fits perfectly into the larger mission of New York Photo Festival. Founded in 2008 by Daniel Power and Frank Evers, CEO of INSTITUTE and the President of Evergreen Pictures, New York Photo Festival not only serves as an American counterpart to European photo festivals like Les Rencontres d’Arles, PhotoEspana and Visa pour l’Image, but as a laboratory to discover and develop the future of photography.
As Power hoped, the photos of “Resolution” mirror the artists. “The project is an effort to have artists think about their moment in time,” he explains. “We want to know what defines you and what you aspire to.” Looking at the photos, the answer can seem elusive, whether in the eerie masked beachcombers in “Low Tide” by Sonja Byrom, the dragged red suitcases in Astrid Verhoef’s “Urbanite04” or the black spandex and rosary of Antonio Pulgarin’s “Mother and I.”
Ultimately, audience engagement trumps the artists’ intentions, as each viewer supplies a new meaning to the image. Power hopes the artists' determination serves as an inspiration as well. “They are pushing their own boundaries, and that is impressive to witness.” At the very least, the exhibition resurrects the resolutions of years past and blows new life into them.
If you go
'Resolution' March 28-April 28 powerHouse Arena 37 Main St., DUMBO Free, 718-666-3049 www.nyph.at