Rising up as spectral monsters, the New York City buildings captured by photographer Marc Yankus loom as giants in the urban landscape. The series of dreamlike images give new perspective to the architecture, and by pulling back to show his subjects in their naked context Yankus forces the viewer to observe their raw impact. The solitude that inhabits the photographs are in stark contrast to the normally buzzing city streets. This solitude enhances the magnitude of the historical buildings, which stand as silent witnesses to the passages of time. The alternating cool and warm tones of the photographs lend a cinematic quality to the series, where the buildings appear to be ripped from the set of a post-apocalyptic science fiction film.
Yankus' work also serves as a time capsule of the evolving urban fabric. Some images commemorate the majestic past, while others look toward a decaying future. “On my way to the museum one day [when I was a boy], I was horrified to see wrecking crews knocking down one of my favorite buildings, a Beaux-Arts apartment building on 79th Street. In the months that followed, a monstrosity of a tower rose in its place. And while that eyesore is still standing today, the lost building—gone now for 40 years—endures in my memory [as] a fading, elegiac postcard of a lost time and place. In my current artwork, I seek to document New York’s iconic, lost, and forgotten architecture, from humble, small buildings to soaring skyscrapers. . . The buildings are not presented simply as they are. Muted of distracting visual noise, they represent my vision of how they ought to be seen.”
The Secret Lives of Buildings will be on view at ClampArt in New York from October 13 – November 26, 2016.
All photos via Marc Yankus