July 26 to October 18, 2014
Artist Reception: Saturday, September 6, 2- 4 pm
The Waterfront Museum is pleased to present Land In Sea, featuring select large scale photographs by artist Stephen Mallon. The show’s focus is work from Mallon’s two powerful series “Brace for Impact” and “American Reclamation”. “Brace for Impact: The Salvage of Flight 1549” features Mallon’s sizeable photographs documenting the recovery by maritime contractor Weeks Marine of Flight 1549, the plane piloted by Sully Sullenberger III who successfully emergency-landed in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009 after a collision with a flock of geese resulted in both engines failing and saving all 155 people aboard. The other is “American Reclamation: Next Stop Atlantic”. NYC’s MTA joined the artificial reef-building program off the east coast of the U.S. in 2000. Mallon documents the progress of the train cars on their destination out to sea from 2008 to 2011.
Stephen Mallon’s strength is his subject choices coupled with his sensitive and powerful approach. This all comes in handy since most of us would not find state contracted construction projects all that engaging. Thankfully Mallon does. He looks at these construction projects and sees beauty, the power of nature and inspired engineering. He is there to witness for us huge subway cars past their prime dumped into the water to recycle them into underwater reefs to support sea life. He is also there to witness for us a large commercial airplane extracted from the water as the final step to the clean-up of an historic emergency landing. He is there to capture these moments and share them with us. And these moments can happen very fast. Stephen shares that “The moment the car hits the water there’s this Titanic-esque moment when the water overtakes the car as it sinks. It’s incredibly fast — from the moment it’s picked up and thrown overboard for the fishes. The change from seeing steel lying on a barge out in the Atlantic to watching water rush in as it hits the ocean is quite dramatic.”
Stephen Mallon’s work inspires us to consider our responsibility and respect for nature and our complicated relationship with it. It is this quality that makes the work distinctly American. Like artists before him Mallon continues the work of The Hudson River School, the oldest Art movement in America. These artists captured the American landscape in epic size to depict the power of nature and the relationship man has with it. Watching “Willis Avenue Bridge” makes you wonder what if the mid-19th century American painter Thomas Cole were given access to a film crew. Standing in front of a large photo of icy waters engulfing the hull of the plane speaks in a modern way of our relationship to nature.
Mallon also tells stories in motion. The show “Land In Sea” also features the time lapse video “A Bridge Delivered”. Set to the aptly name song “Bruckner Boulevard” by DJ Logic and composed of 30,000 still photographs Mallon’s Video is a lyrical piece following the newly constructed Willis Avenue Bridge from its assembly point near Albany to its home on the Harlem River near 125th Street. It is this video that inspired numerous awards and showings as well as a relationship with the Department of Transportation to continue his work documenting construction projects.
The show “Land In Sea” reminds us of the power of our relationship with nature and inspires us to find beauty in the overlooked. And it’s a good thing too since these are the things that make our time on earth all the more interesting.
Stephen Mallon is represented by Front Room Gallery, 147 Roebling Street, Brooklyn New York. 718-782-2556, www.frontroom.org
-Michele Jaslow, Curator