A Short New York Narrative: 12 Color Photographs
by Amy Archer

I’ve always been entranced by The Odyssey, which in one way is really just a story about hunger, and what men will do for their next meal.  But what entrances me is the fact that Odysseus is always between, on the threshold, no matter the grandeur, sensuality, danger, length or desperation of his adventure. Until he reaches home, sees his dog Argos die, and goes into his house to string his bow to kill Penelope’s suitors, he is in liminal space… always between departing from Troy and arriving in Ithaca.

Our culture at the moment is rife with liminal space. The question is not so much where exactly do text messages, emails and voice mail exist, but when are we finally finished with them?

A hotel lobby is one point of no return for the 21st century traveler. When Matt Semler, Artistic Director of The Roger Smith Hotel, asked me to show in the Lobby, I liked the idea of putting my photographs in a liminal space where people are always on the threshold of arriving and departing, on the fulcrum between planning the trip and doing the trip.

The photographs of New York City are meant to be a narrative existing in the seductive thrall of a threshold. They can be “read” in any order or quantity, depending on the traveler’s inclination/time/attention to create the “…and then,” “…and then” of a story.  And since any trip is by nature a story, they are at the same moment, even if glimpsed peripherally, part of the traveler’s tale.

I wanted the New York Narrative to have a kind of distant, bookish look so I had the photographs printed on photo rag paper, which mutes color. Most of them were taken over a number of years on trips to New York. A few have been taken since I moved back last September. They are from a collection of about 100 New York City prints, and one of a series of photographic Narratives.

I usually print my singular images in a 2” x 3” format, but for this show, for the story, I wanted them to be huge. They are all scanned from color negative film, made into digital pigment prints.

The piece in the entrance hallway, “From the Knowles Frieze” is a composite of one of the sculptures that runs along the front of the hotel.  It is the work of James Knowles, sculptor and owner of The Roger Smith.  It is like many of my larger pieces, a composite using one or two photographs to create a different entity from the original image.  This was shot digitally, and is a digital pigment print on Crane silver rag paper. -- AA

All photographs were  printed at Cirrus Digital Printing: Portland, Oregon.