Disposable Life

Public Space and the Prospector’s Cry

Sculpture and photo by C.J. Stahl. Curate This.

I chose C.J. Stahl for this project for his analytical interrogation of the public object and its relationship to our collective consciousness. C.J.’s evidence of contemplation, his structures that act as residue of psychic alchemy, point toward a very personal and highly sensitive nomenclature of symbolic fetish. Through a rigorous methodology Stahl is able to document the privatization of public spaces and synthesize this visual ethnography through sculptural forms that present both a clear dialectic and mystic talismans. Stahl’s results stand as hybrid/dirty Cartesian calibrations of phenomenological artifacts.
-Tyler Kline, curator

When contacted about this project, I was excited at the prospect of documenting some of my changing surroundings using a single-shot camera. Since January of this year, there has been a development boom in many Philadelphia neighborhoods, including mine of Callowhill/North Chinatown. This was no doubt due to Jim Kenney’s first order of business as Mayor: signing an executive order to create the Office of Planning and Development, intended to streamline the development process for city administrators and investors alike. The resulting rapid appearance of worksites was hard to ignore as a pedestrian. Public throughways like sidewalks and street corners became congested or inaccessible, and once-vacant lots doubled as site and storage.

With the coming of the warm months, I began to consider another public space, one that is more green and seemingly in a dialectical relation to the current wave of development. Outside of the Reading Viaduct Project, under the now green-lighted name of The Rail Park, it didn’t seem that the development of mixed-use buildings was balanced with growth of publically accessible green spaces. I noticed the cultivation of green was looking more and more private. Places that looked like community gardens were actually privately cared-for plots, still very beautiful for the passerby, but not an option for a gardener hoping to fall within a participatory catchment. Individuals’ stoop gardens and armies of planters in front of their homes staked a claim that echoed the prospector’s cry. Space, it seems, is running short, and the need to claim territory is now, a near-synthesis of the dialectic.

This project gave me the opportunity to visualize some of my ideas surrounding the places and objects I encounter daily. The image roll that follows is a small selection of photos taken with the single use camera, as well as two sculptures and a collage that make use of these images. For the sculptural works, I considered the mediated experience of urban green spaces from the point of view of a domestic interior. The objects make reference to a space caught between an aesthetically manicured capacity and the desire for an immersive natural experience. The collaged work picks up on the idea of prospecting, and visually acts as a proposition or survey for sculptural works in a public space. In actuality, the space that is cited in the collaged image is private, nestled behind a condo building close to the Whole Foods on the Parkway. I have fantasized about installing works in this space, but it is hard to know how much longer it will remain vacant.

More to Read...

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!