Not Your New York

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Not Your New York

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What happens when a young boy’s baseball bat and the weapon of a soldier contrast in the very same image? Or when you relate the yuppies to the neo-hippies in Central Park because of their mobile phones more than their sense of humanity? And what if the shop windows in Midtown were to somehow   interact with the homeless sleeping in some subway station? One could say that nothing new would happen if these post cards, created by Pablo Garber, loud and chaotic, simultaneously pop, punk and baroque had not proved even more effective than they are dramatic. It is difficult to imagine which other elements could have been resorted to in order to capture, freeze and question this mayhem and,  listen to instead of simply hearing the furious concert of contemporary noise. To make it real and tolerable.

The photographs show parts of the city of New York but under their exasperated neon lights, they detach themselves from that geographical concrete. They become existential prints, maps of the contemporary unease. As Garber says, his post cards “are not about the daily bustle of the big city but portray the whirl of a world in which we seek to find something solid to stand on.”  That is to say: the quest for a connection towards the world that surrounds us and the other. There is the intention to capture the present, a safety net, an angle to protect from the confusing vertigo. Otherwise, what would be the purpose of photographing from below and enlarging a public telephone on a NY phone card?

Fact: everything moves so quickly in the present that it is almost impossible to stop and think. But when confronted with the work of Pablo Garber, the wheel jams, forcing us to acknowledge a certain sense of anxiety. The artist disrupts the fluorescent billboards. They do not go unnoticed, nor are they blinding. They are mere flashes over the emptiness, the solitude of the big cities and the futile daily rat race as a satiating pill. But in case it is still unclear, he adds: “My pictures last a mere instant. Each one is in constant mutation, invading other spaces, changing moods or going from station to station. They can change at any moment; they can be attacked by a virus or be eliminated at the simple push of a button.” That is possible. But when you see them, you will probably agree that they will indeed leave some sort of mark.

Judith Savloff