DEEP DIVE #5: Housatonic River Location Map
One Small Stretch Along the River Yields 6 Pictures Spanning 15 Years
WHEN I BEGIN the process of location scouting, I tend to return to certain places, over and over — because they’re familiar, and help me get into the headspace of making new pictures. One such place is along a short stretch of the Housatonic River that runs through Pittsfield, MA. I’ve been driving and walking around there for at least 25 years. It’s magical, in that the river connects, intersects, and winds through businesses, neighborhoods, under bridges, alongside streets, and through forest. It’s a place where the pastoral and pristine meets domesticity, commerce, various forms of ruins, and debris, all amidst a kind of architecture and landscape that I’m drawn to. It has all the necessary elements for my pictures.
The most recent picture made here was 8 to 10 Cleaning Services on the Eveningside shoot in 2021. When we were making that picture, which happened to be the first one in the Eveningside series, there was a distinct feeling of déjà vu; and previous pictures seemed to hang in the air around us — particularly as I positioned figures beneath the train bridge just feet from where the young boy had stood in Untitled [Shane] in 2007. And yet, it also felt very different. That part of town is always evolving. Improvements are made, other things get torn down, some things get cleaned up, others fall into disrepair. The picture-making process has evolved, too. I went from using an 8 x 10 camera and film to digital. I decided to shoot in black and white instead of color. The river keeps flowing.
In the text for Eveningside, curator Jean-Charles Vergne talks about the way time is frozen in pictures, and yet conversely, the recurrence of specific subjects and places captured across decades in my work makes the passing of time even more profoundly felt. (That text can be found in the book published by Skira Editore, and in the exhibition on view now through Jan. 22, 2023 at Gallerie d’Italia Torino.) Vergne’s sentiment was very much how it felt to return to this area by the river and make new work — the picture of 2021, and the act of making it, inherently felt like it was infused with a back story.
Below is a map, with camera positions , corresponding numbers, and the final images made in this small area:
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Editorial note: This piece was written by Juliane Hiam based on input and conversations with Gregory.