Urban Sprawl by Marek Gorecki
It is so easy in the process of photographing to forget the element of time. I'm not referring to the shutter speed but rather to the simple fact that every photograph we make is capturing — and freezing — a slice of time in an ever-changing world. It may not be philosophically deep to say that as we photograph what is it instantly becomes what was — but that's precisely what happens. In this project titled Urban Sprawl, Marek Gorecki presents us with those little patches of undeveloped land on the edge of development, land that we know, given the passage of time, will disappear from field to parking lot, from footpath to sidewalk, from homes for creatures to homes for humans. He photographs that slice of time at the edge as a means of drawing our attention to what is soon to be lost. (I'll set aside the obvious flaw in this premise — the flaw that there will always be an edge, it just won't be the same edge as it is today.)
I once heard a lecturer comment that wherever there is an edge, there is great power — and wherever there is that power there is the potential for life. As a photographer, I extended this idea to include art. Wherever there is an edge, there is the potential for interesting art. At the river's edge; where the ocean meets the land; where mountains meet sky; where sky meets cloud; where man meets woman; where humans meet nature; where hands meet tools; where chaos meets order; where past meets present; where confusion meets understanding — this list is potentially endless, and the place artifact meets the power to communicate. Find an edge and look for the art that can be made there.
In this project, Gorecki presents the edge where nature meets development, but it's more than that. He also presents us the edge of what exists today and what will exist tomorrow. It's that element of time that makes this photographic project more than simply documentation.
Part of the fascinating question that exists when looking at his images is the conundrum of how to interpret them. Politics quickly enter the discussion. Are his photographs showing us the evil intrusion of civilization on to the unspoiled wild lands? Or, are his photographs showing us the barren, useless plots of land that are soon to be wonderfully alive with humanity? This divide, too, is an edge where philosophical points of view meet — or should I say collide. Wherever there is an edge there is power, because edges by definition define a point of conflict and difference. The challenge all artmakers must address is whether or not they use the power in the edge to advocate one political view or the other, or whether or not they simply show us the edge and leave the advocacy and cheerleading to the politicians.
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