SILVERMAN AND HAMILTON SQUARE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION present
Karina Aguilera Skvirsky: Almost Home
Opening Reception: May 9, 2013, 6—8 pm
Hamilton Square Condominium
232 Pavonia Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07302
Exhibition Run: May 9, 2013 – August 30, 2013
SILVERMAN AND HAMILTON SQUARE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION present “Karina Aguilera Skvirsky: Almost Home,” curated by Brendan Carroll. The exhibition presents 12 color large-format photographs of the Holland Tunnel and its immediate environs. These photographs provide a deadpan record of this oft-maligned neighborhood and speak to the heightened security surrounding public photography in the post–9/11 era.
The Holland Tunnel connects lower Manhattan to Jersey City. More than 34 million vehicles use the underwater passageway per year. Due to gridlock, noise, toll expense, and the reek of exhaust fumes, most commuters regard the tunnel with extreme caution, if not anxiety. On the one hand, it’s the last milestone before your destination. On the other hand, it’s an obstacle that must be endured in order to reach New York.
During rush hour traffic, many drivers measure their progress by the inch—not by the mile. As you sit in gridlock, in what looks to be a no man’s land, it is easy to forget that the city is less than a one mile away.
The view from inside a vehicle offers a bleak picture—discount liquor stores, gas stations, derelict buildings, and low-income public housing projects. The area is not pedestrian-friendly. Most people hope to pass through it as quickly as possible—not stick around. Skvirsky, however, is not most people. Since Spring 2012, she has been documenting the Holland Tunnel, and the area leading up to it, on foot with a large-format camera—the kind of camera used in the nineteenth century. Unlike 35mm cameras, the 4’x5′ view camera requires a tripod. The process is slow, labor-intensive. To get the right shot requires trial and error, mostly error. Skvirsky must choose her subjects (like Burke’s Bar, Salvation Army Thrift Store, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Holland Hotel) wisely.
With her straightforward perspective, which compresses the space, the structures she shoots appear to be as flat as those on Hollywood film sets. Although the photographic equipment Skvirsky uses may not be “modern,” her compositions suggest hard-edged geometric abstraction. She reduces buildings to a series of shapes—squares, circles, triangles.
And yet the hint of humanity always haunts her landscapes. Each photograph features some type of signage—traffic signs, road markings, handwritten cardboard notes, and most ominously, yellow police tape. At first glance, the area appears to be derelict, as building facades crumble and deteriorate. On closer inspection, the photographs reveal tiny glimmers of street life—a solitary pedestrian walking down a sidewalk, a hotel employee painting a doorway, a police officer talking on a cell phone inside a patrol car. Skvirsky’s eye for detail elevates the area to a place worthy of attention, encouraging the viewer to recognize it as an actual neighborhood–a place where people live–not merely as a blighted passageway to somewhere else.
To photograph this area is to draw suspicion from the cops, which is natural. Post–9/11, no person using a camera to photograph bridges and tunnels is benign. In 1993, the Federal Bureau of Investigations foiled a terrorist plot to detonate a bomb inside the Holland Tunnel. On several occasions, the police have questioned Skvirsky as she lugs her camera through the streets. In one instance, an officer required her to divulge her social security number and driver’s license. These interactions with law enforcement do not frustrate Skvirsky. On the contrary, they provide her an opportunity to discuss the project with the authorities. In this respect, the artist’s picture-taking begins to resemble a type of performance piece.
Karina Aguilera Skvirsky is a multi-disciplinary artist who works in photography, video and performance. DPM Gallery, Scaramouche Gallery, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Sara Meltzer Gallery, Bronx River Arts Center, and Momenta Art have organized exhibitions of her work, to name a few. New York State Council on the Arts, Film and Electronic Arts, Urban Artist Initiative, National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, and Puffin Foundation have awarded her artist grants. Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Harvestworks Digital Media Arts Center, The MacDowell Colony, Smack Mellon, and Longwood Arts Project have granted her artist residencies.
In 2011, Laundromat Project commissioned her to create a community based public art project in Jersey City. In 2010, she participated in Sao Paulo’s 29th Biennial There is Always a Cup of Sea for Man to Sail, where she exhibited work from her project, Memories of Development, a multi-part project that investigates the psychological and cultural legacy of Latin America’s “third world” status through performance, video, and photography. She lives with her family in the Hamilton Park section of Jersey City, NJ. Skvirsky earned her Master of Fine Arts from Indiana University in 1996, and she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Literature from Oberlin College in 1991. She and her family live in the Hamilton Park section of Jersey City, NJ.
The exhibition will be on view at Hamilton Square Condominiums through August 30, 2013. For further information, please visit us at SILVERMAN or call number (201) 435-8000.
Karina Aguilera Skvirsky: Almost Home is the fourteenth exhibition that Brendan Carroll will organize for SILVERMAN.
For additional information, go here: Karina Aguilera Skvirsky.
SILVERMAN has presented the works of Tom McGlynn, Margaret Murphy, Valeri Larko, Tenesh Webber, Glenn Garver, Jennifer Krause Chapeau, Michelle Doll, Tim Heins, Megan Maloy, Laurie Riccadonna, Thomas John Carlson, Tim Daly, Ann Flaherty, Scott Taylor, Jason Seder, Sara Wolfe, Beth Gilfilen, Andrzej Lech, Hiroshi Kumagai, Tom McGlynn, Victoria Calabro, Asha Ganpat, Darren Jones, Ryan Roa,Laura Napier, Risa Puno, Nyugen E. Smith, Amanda Thackray, and Kai Vierstra.