Sunday, August 8, 2010
Carnevale at The Shadowbox
Saturday evening the place to be was The Shadowbox in Roanoke, Virginia. Thanks to Roanoke's very own PT Barnum, sans the "sucker born every minute" part, River Laker
urban guerrilla artist, Joseph Carnevale, his girlfriend, Jo, and a riveting slide show, "TRESPASSING: PHOTOGRAPHS FROM RESTRICTED AREAS; JOSEPH CARNEVALE" rolled into town.
What's Carnevale's gig? According to his website, "No Promise of Safety," -- "We trespass for fun. We like to spend our time hanging out on rooftops, climbing to the tops of high rise construction sites, creeping around in storm drains, exploring abandoned buildings, riding freight trains, and just generally using the urban environment as our own playground."
As Carnevale interpreted each photo or video, the audience found themselves perched in locations none of us most likely would ever find ourselves, especially if one suffers from agoraphobia. Another title for the presentation could easily have been "Fisheye is Your Friend" as many of the shots were taken through a fisheye lens. I happen to love that look, and Carnevale uses it superbly, enhancing the already impressive urban landscapes.
I don't know if it's the New Yorker in me or not, but some of my favorite shots were taken atop a couple of New York bridges. Besides the phenomenal view I was impressed, and scared, by the ability of the crew to arrive atop without detection post 9-11. Those 24-hour NYPD surveillance signs are clearly more "feel good" than anything else. I did ask Carnavele if they ever attempted to scale and shoot from my favorite bridge, The Verazzano. He said it was impossible.
On my way out I couldn't help letting him know it wasn't impossible at one time. In the middle of the night, in 1976, my one-day-to-be-husband # 1 and I drove through the bottom "closed" level. In the middle of the bridge, or about there, he stopped the car, got out, reached for my hand, and led me up a slanted concrete slab -- my feet sweating and slipping out of my plastic gladiator one-shoe-laced flats. We perched ourselves on the thin ledge and gazed towards Manhattan, with the black water pulsating below. That's when I developed my fear of heights, and realized I was way too much in love to have done something that stupid, without even having a camera with me.
Not that it was legal then, but now it would be most impossible to even stop on the bridge without someone fearing you're planting a bomb. They even prohibit taking photos from the bridge, as my kids remind me every time I sneak out my camera to shoot the city skyline.
Seeing the shots from the other bridges Carnavele's taken, now I question the validity of those signs. We've never been arrested. And neither has Carnavele. Let's hope it stays that way -- he's young, talented, clearly fearless, hopefully not reckless, and his possibilities are endless. I would be more worried about getting hurt than caught, but that's just me. As long as he's willing to take risks, capturing the world through his distinctive eyes from unconventional heights, I'll be thrilled to gaze from my seat, planted safely on the ground.
Check out his site to see some of his work...you won't be disappointed.
One more thing...this was the first time I visited The Shadowbox, but I don't think it will be the last. I understand last night's show was sold out. Good. Roanoke is lucky to have a venue such as this and I hope the people continue to support it, and they continue to bring unique programs to town. Good job guys.
*****UPDATE*****AFTER THE SHOW*****
As my daughter and I suspected, the crew went exploring in Roanoke. What could they possibly find in Roanoke you may ask. Well, River Laker was kind enough to forward and Joe Carnevale was cool enough to allow me to post this great photo he took last night in Roanoke's Vacropolis Drain. See what you miss when you stay home on a Saturday night...
Photo by Joe Carnevale
In the photo: Joanna Magner, Joe Carnevale, River Laker & John W. Johnson
PS. - The Verrazano Bridge shots were taken by me