Lost photos of life in 1980s Israel
Photographer Rafael Fuchs rediscovers an archive of imagery from his past: shots of secret lives, unknown families, and striking personal histories.
Posted Friday 4th January, 2019
Text by Miss Rosen
Photography © Rafael Fuchs
While pursuing his BFA at the Bezalel Art Academy in Jerusalem during the early 1980s, Israeli artist Rafael Fuchs studied photography. But it wasn’t until he moved to Brooklyn, many years later, that he began revisiting his work from the period. “I was just looking through boxes with a lot of 4×6 prints I made at this time. It’s all a visual biography.”
The ’80s of Fuchs’s youth is filled with curious contradictions he discovered at the time. “Israel is so different from where it is now,” he says. “You are not going to find Palestinians from the West Bank working now, but in the photos, you can see workers showering at one of the hotels.”
“I was looking for the foreign, the broad world, for something unfamiliar, and presenting dichotomies. It was a place of a lot of contradictions: the simple lives of the people versus the wealthy tourists who came from America. This was something I pointed my camera towards.”
Fuchs notes that political and social tension was common. “Israel is a melting pot of people who came from East Europe, Morocco, Iraq, and Arab countries – the Sephardic versus the Ashkenazi. When you go out on the streets you see an interesting mix of people. One theme was outsiders, the Jews from the other parts of the world. I create portraits of solitude and isolation.”
But within loneliness, a desire to connect exists, one born of family and community. In Fuchs’s photographs are scenes of family – both that of strangers and his own — and of striking personal histories that often go untold. Fuchs shares his own, detailing how his father and uncle escaped from Buchenwald, surviving in the forest before being picked up by American troops.
“My father came with an illegal boat to Palestine, was returned to Cyprus and spent nine months there before he finally emigrated to Israel. His brother Zelig stayed in Frankfurt, changed his name, and became a multimillionaire,” Fuchs says. His uncle then became a founding partner in the Jerusalem Hilton Hotel, where the artist and his family spent the holidays during his childhood. “Fast forward 10 years when I am an art student and one of my subjects was all these wealthy people that could afford a room for $100 a night. I would go and dress up in a jacket and tie, go downstairs directly to where the party was, and pretend I was the event photographer.”
“I would take pictures of all these people until one day I was caught by a security guard who asked me what I was doing there. I said, ‘Hey do you know Zelig? He’s the owner of the hotel – and my uncle,’ and he told me, ‘Get the fuck out of here.’”
Mastermind of Controversial ‘Bushwick 200’ Project Tries to ‘Heal the Gap’
April 26, 2016
By Nicole Disser
Rafael Fuchs has lived in Bushwick for the last 11 years. For the first five, Fuchs worked as an independent artist and since 2012 he’s run Fuchs Projects, a gallery for showing work by himself and other artists (international and local) inside the BogArt, a building that on weekends is packed with streams of visitors headed to galleries with names like Soho20. An Israeli photographer who’s lived in New York since 1985, Fuchs arrived in Bushwick just prior to what he calls the “art explosion,” as just another newcomer looking for cheap rent. His neighborhood stomping grounds over the years have been mostly confined to the area around the Morgan stop. Beyond that zone of familiarity is what Fuchs described to me as “deep Bushwick.”
“For me, this was an industrial zone,” Fuchs recalled of so-called Morgantown in an interview last week. For the first few years, he lived in an industrial loft space where his bedroom was an old freight elevator. “I don’t feel I’ve had a direct effect, but there is an effect on the native community– it’s a tidal wave, it goes that way,” he said, gesturing outside his studio.
Fuchs had decided to start his own gallery after seeing two of his favorites in the neighborhood close up shop. Almost immediately after opening Fuchs Projects, he started receiving attention from the art world outside of Bushwick for his involvement in, well, Bushwick. “All of a sudden, Fountain art fair was like, ‘Why don’t you come?” he recalled. “People wanted the voice of Bushwick in photography.”
(Additional excerpts from the article:)
Last week Rafael reached out to B+B regarding Unity Within Diversity, a one-off performance and ongoing art exhibition he was set to host at Fuchs Projects. We were especially intrigued when Fuchs described the event as “a step in the attempt to heal the gap between long-time residents and newcomers in Bushwick,” and one that “intended to start a healthy and productive dialogue in the community.” All were welcome, the Facebook invite insisted.
“‘I’m an artist, I’m not a social activist, and I’m not a historian,” he explained. “If my art is touching some nerves, that’s great. I’m not going to fight it, I’m going to go with it. This is why I chose to go this way.” ...
Fuchs had gone to see if he could make peace with his critics and recruit Rosado, among others, to help him with the Bushwick 200, something he’d discussed with Arts in Bushwick members prior to the meeting. Fuchs said that Rosado declined his private invitation to meet for coffee and discuss. “Anthony told me blankly, ‘No, because I’m concentrating on working with people of color,’” Fuchs recalled, his face twisting into a flabbergasted look of shock.
The new iteration of the 200 project, “Unity Within Diversity,” and the forthcoming events that Fuchs says he’ll be hosting in the near future, maintain some elements of the original project in that they’re centered (somewhat confoundingly) around a found-art sculpture, a series of photographs taken between 2005 and the present, and seemingly random interactive performances. ... his own photography plays the strongest and easily the most interesting role in the project. Fuchs has amassed, by his estimate, around “half a million” photographs of the neighborhood since he began shooting Bushwick in 2005. “One of the things I did during the winter, except healing from this whole thing– I mean, truthfully– I was going over all the other materials, all the photographs I’ve been taking here in Bushwick,” he recalled.One photograph in particular, “Grattan St.,” struck me immediately upon arriving at Fuchs Projects. It depicts a youngish guy with blonde, slicked-back hair, jeans, cowboy boots and a white tee. He’s awash in the summer sun, standing at the corner of Grattan and Bogart, a place that now you’re wise to avoid on a Friday night when it’s bound to be clogged with European tourists searching desperately for Roberta’s. But when Fuchs took the photo in 2006, this area was strkingly different– in fact, Roberta’s wasn’t even a twinkle in Chris Parachini’s eye until the following year. According to a caption on Fuchs’s website, Walter, the man in the photo, is “the guy who was showing rental spaces in the 56 Bogart building.” Walter is pictured standing outside of the same unit where, years later, Fuchs Projects would be located.“All the sudden, I realize that a lot of my photographs, there is a very heavy social way to it,” Fuchs explained. “Because you can see this picture, it’s very nice and it’s very pretty, but it’s really heavy in terms of, well, this guy’s standing here and waiting for people to rent these places upstairs. This is about gentrification! All of a sudden, a lot of my other pictures that I see– my photos of lovely girls coming to this neighborhood to party, to eat in a restaurant– and all of a sudden I look at it, and I’m like, ‘Gentrification!’” This recent discovery has inspired Fuchs to embark on a new kind of Bushwick 200. “Because the 200 is a magical number for me, in a way. I said, ‘You know what? I’ll take 200 days and each day I will post a picture,'” he explained. The result, Bushwick Forever, is a series he plans to release in two parts. Volume one consists of around 2,000 images photos shot between 2005 and 2011, what Fuchs calls “before the art explosion,” while volume two will focus on what he shot after the art influx through the present day.
Flip through the “Bushwick Forever” series posted on Fuchs’s website and you’ll find an array of images that look recent enough to feel eerily close to the present, and yet distant enough to feel completely disorienting. Things have changed immensely, but truly not that much time has passed. One image depicts a gaggle of awkward coeds standing outside the Morgan stop, decked out in short skirts, clashing plaids and hoodies, with legs that look way too cold to be bare or covered in barely-there nylons. They’re clearly searching for the cool warehouse party they came all the way out here to find as a transit cop lurks dumbly in the background. Another image shows a rooftop party backed by a foreboding sunset, populated by ketchup and grill things, Stella Artois, and a girl in her underwear.Some images hold less obvious connections to gentrification and seem a little, well, random– take the hairless cat peacefully sitting on top of a plastic shelving unit. Maybe it’s the Ikea fancy surroundings that Fuchs understands as a marker of gentrification? Who knows. “With my work I don’t say it’s bad or it’s good– these are just things that I encounter,” Fuchs explained. “See, I’m a photographer and I do my personal documentary meaning, like, I’m not an historian and I’m not a photojournalist...Again, my Bushwick, my little niche of Bushwick. I see my work as a very important part [of the story], but it doesn’t cover everything, and that’s fine. The way I understand it, some people should only eat fruits and not vegetables.”The subjects in “Bushwick Forever” include Fuchs’s former neighbors, people he’s encountered out on the street, and even street art. Taken in February 2011, one of these photos, “You Are Not,” shows a large mural (painted by twin brothers known as Skewvillle) scrawled across a brick building on Vandervoort Place: “YOU ARE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE.” I asked Fuchs if he had a personal connection to this message. “Well, I’m not from Kansas,” he scoffed. But he did explain that, looking at this image five years later, he was able to make a connection to the Bushwick 200 debacle. “Who are you to decide I’m not from here? The fact that you were born 24 years ago–” Fuchs said, addressing a hypothetical critic– “And I came here 11 years ago– Who is what? What is what? So I decided, ‘You Are Not.’”As much as Fuchs talks about these images reflecting a personal experience of the neighborhood, he also emphasizes that his lens is turned outward, aimed at the people of Bushwick. “My whole idea is to, through art, express the situation and illuminate people in Bushwick and the things they are doing,” he said.And he’s still adding to that pile of 500,000 images. “I’m personally interested to see what’s going on in deep Bushwick, and that’s what many people want to know,” he told me. I wondered who these inquiring minds are, but Fuchs had already trailed off. “It’s not true that I shot only in this area,” he said. “I went to Puerto Rico Avenue and I would go to cut my hair with the Spanish barbers, where I would go to buy meat and go to the cobbler.”***It’s maybe helpful to think about “Bushwick Forever” in the context of Fuch’s larger body of work, where that term “personal documentary” comes up again. During the 1980s, Fuchs was stationed in Lebanon, serving his obligatory stint in the Israeli army. “I was a soldier. I was sent to the South of Lebanon for one month. I was very unhappy, for many reasons. One reason, because I could have died– it wasn’t the beginning of the war, but secondly, I wasn’t really happy with the politics of Israel, doing what they did at the time. But I had to go, because you have to go do your reserve, I said, ‘You know, it might be my last documentary.’ So I did self-portraits as a soldier in a war zone. And I wanted to reflect my feelings of distress, of fear, and it was also so surrealistic. Here I am, sent to defend my country, I don’t even believe in this war.”The striking photos in “War_self portraits in a war zone,” which Fuchs described as “my strongest series,” capture a whole different mood than the images of “Bushwick Forever.” Here, we see a young Rafael, tan, blonde, and somehow flouting normal rank-and-file military fashion with a variety of accessories including a pair of red high-waisted underwear, tan lines, streamlined cobalt blue Oakleys, and the same white makeup worn by Kabuki dancers who he’d seen perform in Jerusalem. Fuchs is so separate from his fellow soldiers in these images, so distinct from the bleak war zone and remote desert landscape, that it almost looks like he’s been doctored into the photos. The war continues around him, seemingly without his help, but also in spite of his eccentric presence. There’s a real sense of resistance here, one that’s sadly futile in the face of military power.
As with the “Bushwick Forever” series, Fuchs seemed to have been in the right place at the right time. The difference with “War” being that he was distinctly aware of what was happening around him and of his place within that landscape while he was actually shooting the images. Not so for “Bushwick Forever,” even by Fuchs’s own admission. In fact, Fuchs was sort of a latecomer to the issue of gentrification. He guessed that 2011 was when everything started to add up for him. “I realized something was happening here, Bushwick was becoming a very unique place and attracting a lot of people,” he recalled.
But it’s the kind of work he’s doing in “Bushwick Forever” that seems to be most inspiring to Fuchs at this moment. Pointing to another large photograph hanging at the gallery, he started to speak about his commissioned work– which includes portraits of a number of (hilarious) celebrities including Carey Hart, the motocross racer better known as Pink’s husband; Bam Margera in skinnier days; and a founding member of 98 Degrees, who owns a bedspread bearing his late-’90s likeness. The portrait hanging on the wall, however, was a much more surreal one, depicting a nameless woman wearing a swim cap, surrounded by birds. Fuchs said that people enjoyed the work, telling him, “‘Look, it’s pleasant, people like it, it’s going to sell a lot,'” but that his attention was elsewhere. “I feel like I still have more stuff to say,” he explained. “When art can go different ways, and provoke different emotions, and start a conversation, that’s beautiful.”
Following my long interview with Fuchs midweek, I went to check out the opening on Friday night...
As Fuchs had explained to me previously, the performance centered on an improvised song and dance piece by the artists Gio Kusanagi (the mover) and Jia Doughman (the violin player)...Below the bust were four ribbons (“They signify the four elements, because it’s Earth Day also,” Rafael explained) and a small box with instructions for gallery-goers: “Please write your wishes about the community or the society in a piece of card [sic].” As Gio pointed out, not all of the “wishes” were related directly to the community, some were personal. Each guest was asked to read a wish penned by their neighbor. I flipped through the little sticky notes full of wishes. “I wish that people would work together as a community rather than push people out,” read one wish. At the bottom the guest had drawn a heart.
“There was one African-American lady here,” Gio made sure to point out to me. “She is trying to recruit diverse people from Bushwick, she’s interested in working with people from a blue-collar background. She wants to train them to work as assistants in the theater and on film crews. She said that she enjoyed the performance.”...Overall, Fuchs seemed very pleased with the “intimate turnout” and the prospects for the next iteration...“ “My point is very simple, I want the social activists to unite with the artists, and not to fight against them,” he said. “Art is definitely powerful.” To see the article on BEDFORD + BOWERY click HERE
Observe the Evolution of Street Art in Bushwick on "The Shack"
By Emilie Ruscoe
A recent project by the prolific and sometimes controversial Bushwick based photographer Rafael Fuchs provides a literal snapshot of street art in Bushwick over ten years.
"The Shack", a work produced this year, presents a grid of six photographs, taken between 2005 and 2015, of a small vernacular shack that used to sit on Grattan street. Organized chronologically, the photos document six very different arrays of art covering the shack. The earliest photos are primarily tags, but several photos in, wheatpaste and more conceptually driven art appear. One of the final images features a mural-style painting of a "Bushwick bouquet"; advertising is visible in several of the later images.
Fuchs tells Bushwick Daily that the grid style is a nod to the work of German conceptual artists and photographers Hilla and Bernd Becher, who produced work that prominently featured industrial architecture, and that this set of photos is one of several he has worked on that feature the same location shot over a series of years. Stop by his studio at 56 Bogart to see the photos in detail.
To see the article on Bushwick Daily click HERE
Photo Director Denise Sfraga Chats with Bushwick Gallerist Rafael Fuchs
FEBRUARY 29, 2016
By Denise Sfraga
Fuchs Projects is a contemporary art gallery which is located in Bushwick, Brooklyn since 2012 andfounded by photographer Rafael Fuchs. The gallery exhibits art of both emerging and mid-career artists from the New York area as well as international artists with a specializationin photography. Denise Sfraga is a Photo Editor who has worked at a variety of magazines including Rolling Stone, Men's Journal, People, Civilization, Entertainment Weekly, Health and is currently Director of Photography at This Old House Magazine. She recently sat down with photographer and gallerist Rafael Fuchs to discuss his photography and exhibition space in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
DS:We've known each other for many years and I'm most familiar withyour work of celebrity portraits which have been published in various pop culture magazines dating back to the 1980's. I would love to know more about your gallery in Bushwick Brooklyn - Fuchs Projects located at 56 Bogart Street. You have had a successful career as a photographer and have experience in all aspects of the business including advertising, video, music, magazines, books…Why did you decide to open a gallery?
RF: Personally, one of the main reasons for me to open my gallery was the fact that two local galleries that had hosted solo shows of my work in 2006 and 2010 (Ad Hoc and Eastern District) decided to close down the following year in 2011. Following the DIY spirit, I decided to create my own space, that alsoserves as a studio. It has a very unique character and beautiful daylight. I rent it at times for other photographers as well. The idea of opening a gallery comes from the DIY approach that I have noticed catching on in the neighborhood, where a fair amount of artistshave opened galleries. This is not a new idea in the history of photography - the first internationally famous “291 art gallery” was located at 291 5th Ave in NYC from 1905 to 1917 and was created and managed by the photographer Alfred Stieglitz where he showed his own work as well as other artists.
DS: What type of work do you exhibit and how often do the exhibitions typically last?
RF: I exhibit mostly photography, but not exclusively. For example, In December of 2015 I exhibited a show by the cross-stitch artist Phil Davison from the UK and then a photography showcalled “Sauna” by Aapo Matilla who is an artist from Finland. The mission of the gallery is to show photography related works that are challenging issues as well asthe medium of photography. The exhibitions could last from one week to a whole month or even more. It all depends whether it’s an artist that is represented (non-exclusively) by the gallery, or whether it’s a special event/pop-up style show.
DS: How far in advance do you plan the exhibition schedule?
RF: At times I’m working on a project with an artist (or my own project) one year or so in advance, and plan a time slot for the exhibition, although I start promoting it only when it’s getting close to the debut date.
Sometimes, asan immediate response to current affairs (particularly in the Bushwick area), I would create/curate/ work with someone on an show that would be installed within a couple of weeks from being discussed / conceived.
DS: How do you manage your own photography career and curating other photographers' works?
RF: It’s a very complex and difficult task. Obviously it takes a toll on my own artwork in terms of the time I am able to dedicate to it. I took that into consideration when I opened the gallery, with the idea to develop something bigger than just my own work. Having a gallery space gives me the opportunity to show my work more frequently, as it develops in its early stages, a practice that some other photographers most likely won't adopt. I believe that it enables me to grow as an artist, since I have the urge to share my work with others as I make it, it gives me the opportunity to view my work on the wall and to see the reaction of the visitors and engage with conversations, a practice that helps me define my own path.
DS: What are the benefits of curating and operating a gallery?
RF: There are a few benefits of having a gallery.... One benefit is the option to participate in art fairs , which in most cases, include galleries only and not individual artists (unless commissioned by the art fair organizers.). Also, having a gallery forces me to look closer at other artists work which not only keeps me on my toes, but enriches and educates me and opens a platform to discuss art and ideas with other artists. Since I opened my gallery ( 3 and a half years ago), I have exhibited other artists’ work in addition to my own, promote their work and give them an outlet to showcase it. It was a deliberate decision to create something bigger than just my own work, but to create an art hub for more than one artist and to amplify our voices together. At times, I recruit a curator to help an artist to edit their work and help make it ready for an exhibition. An example is photographer Augustin Doublet, who had a solo show of his street photography. He came with hundreds of images, and I introduced him to Casey Elsass, who was at the time the co-director of the Metropolitan Opera gallery, and was very kind to spend many hours and edit Augustin’s work to two sections that fit beautifully in the gallery. One room was color and the other was Black and White images (The art critic Jerry Saltz dropped in to view the show which he liked!).
DS: Are you still actively photographing?
RF: Yes, Istill devote time and effort to my own workmostly personal (rather than commissioned). My photography career changed in the past few years and is focused and appeals more to the art world, although it’s interesting that some of my work that is presented and sold as art was done initially as an editorial commission for different magazines. Actually, if we look at a lot of works by some of the biggest names in photography, many of their well-known works were commissioned for magazines such as Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Diane Arbus, Annie Leibovitz, Mark Seliger... just to name a few.
It is also interesting that my workas well as other artists that are shown in the gallery , are purchased and shown not only by individual collectors, but also by other patrons such as advertising agencies who display the work in their offices to inspire the art directors and their clients as in Ogilvy, NY.
DS: Whatphotography projects are you currentlyworking on?
RF: In the past three years I have been also exploring not only straight photography, but also manipulated photographs and photo collages, that I presented in a few shows such as “LandLords” (2014), “The New Religion” and "Change Of Seasons” (both 2015). Most recently, I have been busy editing my personal documentary photographs that I have been taking during the past 10 years of the Bushwick neighborhood I moved to in 2005. This series includes portraits of people who have lived in Bushwick and photos of the urban terrain that has been changing rapidly and alsodifferent events like art openings or parties, and much more…and it is a hard task to compile it all. I am planning on putting it together in a few books. You can see at bit of the Buswick project here. I also am working on a series called“Change Of Seasons” that started as an art commission last year, and in addition I was commissioned to re-work on images of super models that I took in the 90’s, as Kate Moss, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Tara Banks, Cindy Crawford, and more.
DS: Competition is so strong in New York City and it's become very difficult for artists whether just starting out or even mid-career to get their work seen and exhibited - what advice can you give to someone who is seeking gallery representation?
RF: That’s interesting…coincidentally, a nice woman recently walked in the gallery and asked me the same question. I told her that it all depends on the personality of the artist..but my advice to her was that she has to visit the gallery a few times, become familiar with the work being shown, attend some openings and figure out whether it’s a good fit between her and the gallery she’s interested in. The relationship between the gallery and the artist has to be compatible, and both have to contribute to each other in different ways in order to grow together. I believe that before an artist has gained a name for themselves, the approach to the gallery curator should be in person, and maybe can start as a short conversation with leaving a card or a postcard with a image of the artwork..this can be a start. The day she walked in the gallery, she mentioned a couple of times to me that she had some works in her car, and I explained to her that maybe that wasn't the right approach - to walk into a gallery without an appointment and assume that the gallery director will have the time to look at the work.
DS: Do you accept submissions from photographers? Since most galleries do not accept submissions, what is the best advice you can give someone who wants to get their work out there?
RF: At Fuchs Projects gallery, my co-director and I, which canvary at times, are opento look at submissions. We’re always interested in seeing what’s out there. It doesn’t guarantee that we could show much of what we see, but I can give my personal opinion or advice. Sometimes we have group showswhich is an interesting way to present new artists' works and gauge reactions (and sales). It also gives us a chance to get to know the artists better, which could lead to future collaborations and projects.
My advice to photographers is to submit their work to different competitions / portfolio reviews / call for entries and other opportunities that will expose their work. Obviously, a photographer has to be selective in what competition they submit to, because some of themare not worthy or not related to their work at all . The photographers need to stay true to themselves in regards to what they show and submit, without thinking of what can win, or what might please the judges…as long as it’s related to the theme of the show or competition. Sometimes the piecemight grab the attention of one of the reviewers, that could lead to it being includedin another event, or invite the artist to participate in another show. Also, I would suggest to photographers to make prints of their work and create an event like an open studio in order to showcase their work. Photographers should be proactive in getting their work seen. Something as simple as inviting their friends over to look at work is aa good (and entertaining) way to get feedback and sharpen ones vision. (and even offer some works for sale at a friendly price).
DS: With the current struggling economy, are people investing in photography and what style are they most drawn to and/or do you have a artist represented by your gallery who sells work regularly?
RF: People are still investing in photography. From my experience, people are more interested these days in seeing (and purchasing) works that are different than straight photography. People have been interested in photo-collages, alternative process, digital manipulation, a mix of a print and painting, photo installations, works printed on different materials, photographs that don’t look like photographs, etc. Although, a strong straight photograph or a group of straight photographs edited concisely will always grab attention and very likely to sell. One of the more successful artists in terms of sales during the consignment agreement was Petros Chrisostomou. http://fuchsprojects.com/petros-chrisostomou
DS: What is a typical agreement between the gallery and artist/photographer?
RF: The way that the gallery works is to represent someone non-exclusively for a limited period of time (usually 6 months) with a specific body of work (about 20 works), that is promoted in various ways. We sell works of artists during an exhibition, a pre-show sale event, art fair, etc. and also during the period of the consignment. We give the artists a platform to show their work without binding them to our gallery. We are allowing themto develop relationships with other galleries that might want to invest in them for longer periods later on. The commission of the gallery varies depending on the different shows, but usually it’s 70% to the artist and 30% to the gallery (after the framing cost is deducted, when a framed work is sold).
DS: Can you give an example of one the gallery artists and how you discovered their work?
RF: It could be from artists' solicitations and/or sometimes we reach out to an artists whose work we have seen previously. Also, sometimes we would have a curator that is putting a show together that brings in artists from his own circles and initiations. An example: Ruben Natal San Miguel (who is a prolific photographer as well as a curator, who put this show together) or a collaboration with The Big Lean.
DS: In a similar way artists need to promote themselves and their work, how do you promote your gallery and encourage people from other boroughsto come out to Brooklyn to see your exhibitions?
RF: We promote the gallery by announcing our opening receptions via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and mostly through our private mailing list that consists of about 2,500 names of people that subscribe.
Out of these there are about 300 people that are eitheractive collectors (that bought from our gallery), as well as art and photography critics, bloggers and curators. We also distribute postcards and flyers and sometimes we sponsor special events like an artist talk, book signing, etc. Artfairs(such Fountain, Scope Miami, Art Martkt Hamptons, Scope NY, Cutlog, Sluice NY, YES: Selects (NY) that we have been participating in for the past three years are also a great tool to promote the gallery and introduce works to broader crowds.
DS: You've lived in Bushwick for over ten years…with the explosion of the art scene there with more and more galleries opening, how do you see the neighborhood changing - for better or worse?
RF: The neighborhood has been changing a lot. When I first moved out here in February 2005, there were about seven galleries, and now there are over 70! And there wasn't as many bars and restaurants back then.
Bushwick soon became a destination for artists, then real estate developersof restaurants and bars. Obviously, the downside of this change and gentrification is the rise of prices (rentals are double now) and the displacement of lower income residents. These issues need to be addressed as Bushwick continues to rise as the new alternative art center is booming.
DS: What are your plans for this year? What exhibitions are coming up we can look for?
RF: Thisis the year for me tofinally put together books of images I have been taking here in Bushwick for the past 10 years. See a glimpse of it here. The exhibitions that are coming up will be related to this, but there will be other exhibitions as well that fit the mission of the gallery to present innovation and challenging photography works. For instance, in April we will feature the artist Chris Kienke whose workis "post-analog." He paints over photographs of pixelated TV screens that he prints on canvas. And obviously, we’ll insert to our schedule other shows that will come along as we continue with our art adventures.
See more of Rafael Fuchs at his site, www.rafaelfuchs.com for his early works, projects, commissions, videos and books.
To see the article on PDN.com click here
1) How did the idea for your gallery came about?
Opening Fuchs Projects, was inspired and influenced by what was happening in my neighborhood; in Bushwick it’s all about the DIY spirit.
I moved here 10 years ago and realized that this neighborhood was a magnet for a lot of emerging artists. I decided to open my own gallery after two different galleries I had shows in had to close. I wanted to secure a space to showcase my work as well as inviting other, mostly local, artists and giving them the opportunity to exhibit their work. With this kind of concept, one can amplify the impact.
It has been constant work to sustain a cutting edge program, and to relentlessly promote my gallery as well as the general art scene and social activities in the area. People began to call me the “Mayor Of Bushwick”…although I’m a bit hesitant to embrace this title. I believe it’s a cumulative effort of many people that live and believe in the area, and share a similar vision with me. I believe that innovation and progress is fueled by networking. As result of 3 years of hard work, it was delightful to see Klaus Biesenbach, Director of MoMA PS1 and Chief Curator at Large at MoMA and Jerry Saltz, senior art critic and columnist for New York Magazine, visiting the gallery at 4 PM on Friday afternoon during one of the first Bushwick Open Studios.
I try to have a showcase of my work twice a year splitting the showcases between my very recent work and earlier bodies of works, some that were done back in the 90’s. The rest of the times I direct or invite curators to do one month solo shows, group shows or pop-up shows.
2) What is your favorite NYC neighborhood and why?
My favorite NYC neighborhood is Bushwick, obviously! I love the urban terrain here with the mix of the active factories with the residential buildings, and the formerly operating factories that turned to lofts residential buildings.
I love the energy you feel when you get to this neighborhood, either from the people around, or from the street artworks that is all over the walls around the Morgan ave. and the Jefferson St. L train stations areas.
There is more freedom to create here, in terms of space options and noise tolerance, than in Manhattan, or in other boroughs of Brooklyn. You don’t feel the tension and nervousness that you feel when you walk the streets of Manhattan. People walk slower here than on the avenues of Manhattan; they are dressed more creatively here.
Although, during the 10 years of residing in this neighborhood, I can’t avoid noticing the changes that as happened here. But hey, Vogue magazine gave Bushwick the #7 slot in the “coolest neighborhoods in the world” list. There is, obviously a lot to improve, and actions have been taken towards improving the quality of life here.
No matter what, I love Bushwick; so much so that I’m going to publish a book titled “Bushwick Forever,” that will have selected images from a few hundreds thousands of images that I’ve been taking in this neighborhood in the past 10 years!!!
3) Describe your Perfect NYC Day.
In a perfect NYC Day, I would like to be a tourist, in my own town. We live here and a lot of times don’t enjoy what this fantastic city has to offer us.
A lot of tourists are roaming around, visiting the different Museums, hoping on the Ferry to Staten Island just for the views and enjoy the night life of the city, whether it’s theater, dance, opera or a music concert, and we just say that we don’t have the time or the energy to do it.
I would like to go to the Whitney Museum, walk the High Line, have a lunch somewhere near Central Park, take the subway to Williamsburg, check out some galleries in Bushwick, have dinner with friends at eitherRoberta’s, Momo’s, or Tutu’s, and go to a live music concert in the Lower East Side.
4) What is your favorite small business in NYC?
I have a few that are my favorites. The first would be Martin Greenfield Clothiers, the last hand tailored men’s clothing company in NY, on Varet St. in Bushwick. This amazing holocaust survivor is still tailoring presidents, movie stars for the big screens or TV shows. For over 6 decades, running his business with the help of his two sons, Jay and Tod.
Another is Jerez Tailor Shop, a one-man operation, with his booth located in the Moore Street Market on 110 Moore St., which is one of Brooklyn’s oldest markets, dating back almost 70 years. When you walk into the market, you feel like you took a leap and you are in a market in Santo Domingo, DR. It’s so authentic, and the prices are…so affordable. I love visiting the Jerez; he’s tucked in his booth on the right side of the market as you walk in, a bunch of clothes to fix. He’ll sew the pockets, get new buttons, hem pants, and you’ll end up spending less than $20. Ahhh… and also get a delicious home-cooking lunch at a restaurant on the other side of the market.
Another small business company that is operating from the Bushwick area and is making big waves isDwarven Forge. The company creates hand-painted and durable miniature-terrain sets for the Dragon and Dungeons fantasy tabletop role-playing game.
Stefan Pokorny, the founder and creative force of the company, is a classically trained, professional painter and sculptor and is a medieval fantasy devotee. With his business partner Jay, and one full time employee, he managed to create and deliver miniature terrains for the gamers all around the globe, and raised over $6 Million from 3 successful Kickstarter campaigns.
But all this success is a result of the dedication and hard work of Stefan, that started turning his passion to a maverick business module back in 1996. As an extension of his successful company, Stefan is about to open an art gallery in the 56 Bogart St. galleries bldg. with the goal of elevating Fantasy Art to a high level.
5) How can someone who is moving to NYC connect with new people?
Bars are always an option…and I hear that a lot of friendships started in bars. The duration of these friendships vary, though, and tend to be as short as one night or one week.
I would recommend to someone who is moving to the city to join a class or some kind of group activity, depending on their interest/hobbies.
It could be a photography class/course at the International Center of Photography, a painting class at the Arts Students League of NY, a cooking class at Jacques Pepin Culinary School, an acting class at HB Studio, or simply join a gym or a public swimming pool, or take yoga classes.
Also, I would recommend to join lectures/presentation at places like the 92nd. Street Y, or The New School, etc.
I would recommend going to gallery opening receptions. That’s a lot of fun, hopping from one gallery to another, sipping wine or beer (tipping is appreciated), and talking to people.
It could be usually on a Friday at 56 Bogart St. in Bushwick (where Fuchs Projects gallery is located as well as 14 other galleries!). We have an opening for Phil Davison, a London based cross-stitch artist on Thursday, Dec. 3d. 6-9 PM. Check the gallery website or the Facebook page for upcoming events.
In Chelsea, the openings are happen mostly on Thursdays, and that’s a lot of fun too. The opening are open to the public and free of charge.
I would also recommend newcomers to just be friendly and open minded, and remember that most of the population that live in NY moved here from somewhere else to fulfill a dream.
To see the article on ROMIO blog click HERE
From Bushwick With Love
Rafael Fuchs ain’t addicted to The New Religion, technology with all its gadgets and platforms, although he gets it and makes it work. Not the right target for any kind of propaganda or ideological machinery although there’s always Hope for Peace. Rafi Fuchs, a visionary man with a real sense of humor and real talent. His photography will grab your attention for its visual power and layers of meaning intentionally picked and pressed by an artist who never stops asking the toughest questions, explores in depth, and works, works, and works some more.
“Create the works that matter to you,” he says. “You are the first and most important audience of your art. You (the artist) are the one who should be pleased, invigorated, seduced or intrigued by it (your art), first. Then the others will follow.”
Words of wisdom by an artist whose photography has graced the front pages of major publications, whose art works are collected and commissioned by individuals and institutions, and whose achievement and success are shared and lead young and talented artists at hisFuchsProjects Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn - NYC.
One of your series is titled The New Religion. Tell us about the good, the bad, and the ugly according to your definition of The New Religion?
"The New Religion” is my newest body of work that examines the new practices of human civilizations, especially in conjunction to the technology advancement in the past twenty years, broad internet usage, and various social media platforms of communication, expression and “propaganda”.
The works deal also with the new esthetics in the medium of photography with usage of the new technology, and moving away from straight analog photography to digitally enhanced and applied imagery driven.
In our modern society, the phone has replaced the books of prayers, the cross or other religious artifacts that people used to carry with them.
Instead of reading and scrolling the holy books or keep the fingers occupied with counting the prayer beads, people are scrolling their phones, counting their “likes”. It’s a new addiction.
The possibility to be engaged with in multiple “conversations” simultaneously is a blessing and a curse…it takes us away from being fully present in the moment, but expands our reach at the same time.
The title “The New Religion” is coming from my experience while visiting a Museum in upstate NY and encountering a marble statue of a (supposedly) Native American woman looking at a Cross that she’s holding. It looked as a modern day pose of a “selfie” (a term that I was conflicted about, since I attributed to it a quick and shallow practice of a self portrait… but recently I acknowledged it as an inevitable current practice), so I added the iPhone to the photograph that I took of the statue, alluding to the notion that the new religion is the new technology.
From that moment of departure I became free to incorporate in my work collage practices , different photoshop filters, free association with images that I took…blurring the line between representation and abstraction, and adapting the notion that very often the point of departure and the consequence of the effort is seemingly unrelated.
The Modernism of Curiosity – intriguing title, amazing work. Was there a particular moment that got you started on this particular series?
“The Modernism Of Curiosity” is a title I gave to a collection of works of mine spanning 3 decades, that I curated and exhibited in 2013. It is, by far, not a retrospective, since it doesn’t include all my bodies of works, but just a collection of 114 works that I carefully picked and highlighted, and designated for a lucrative collector.
The works include personal social documentary that I photographed in Israel in the 80’s , staged tableaux, self portraits, still life and portrait photography of icons in different social fields throughout the years.
The title derives from two photography auction’s titles ("The Face of Modernism" and “The Curious Collector”) and it is a combination of those titles, that I thought plays well with the nature of the collection.
The beginning of that collection came from notes that I wrote to myself regarding works that I saw in different auctions that reminded me of my own works. So I started creating my own “auction” collection, that expanded and took a leap away from trying to stay parallel to existing works in different auctions, but concentrating more on what is really significant and what are the in key-notes in the process of my own work throughout 3 decades.
Israel 1983! Why 1983? What is a single imagine you’d choose to depict Israel today?
“Israel 1983” title comes from the fact that the images were shot in 1983, while still, being a student at the photography department in "Bezalel" art academy in Jerusalem.
An image that I took then, and is, still, relevant for the life-style of today, is the image that show the public shelter, that bears the word “Shelter” in very bold letters. The image is a reminder, that nevertheless that Tel Aviv is a very progressive, modern and lively city.
There is always the threat of unfortunate occasions of terrorists attacks on civilians, therefore there are underground public shelters built for the rescue. You can see the Bauhaus style building in the background, which is very typical to the way Tel Aviv was built in the 30’s and 40’s.
Life goes on in the city, amid the constant threats and danger.
Landlords or The Twin Towers and more … art to some, controversial or even outrageous to others. How do you deal with people’s array of responses to your work?
Throughout the years, I find myself sometimes dealing with topics that are considered controversial.
The “LandLords” series, “Twin Towers” and “Hope For Peace” (self portraits while being a soldier in a battle field) are just a few of those.
For me, the works are just a natural response to things that are happening around me, and are, obviously, affecting me. I am responding with respect to people that are offended, and usually they change their mind after understanding the reasoning and the process of creating the images that provoked them.
The 911 “Twin Towers" series is a group of portraits that I took of people I knew, without directing them, while you can see on the background the twin towers in smoke. This was at the beginning of the big tragedy. We were watching it being stunned and confused, and I picked those horrific moments letting them express their reaction to what is about to unfold to a huge catastrophe, without us knowing it, yet.
Obviously, as soon as the first tower collapsed, the mood changed drastically as the watchers figured the magnitude of the event. These images are quite painful, and I understand that some people are taking it in the wrong way. I have been explaining that my intentions are just to depict this “decisive moment”. I had, mostly, positive responses to the series. It evokes very strong feelings and reaction, and this is what matters in art.
The “LandLords” series is a body of work that started with depicting portraits of several Chassidic landlords I took throughout the years. By using the collage technique in Photoshop I was able to incorporate into the final images the world that they are surrounded by, which is basically my own world. It might allude to the conflicts that maybe occurring between them and the secular world. The origins of the motives of these images are the issues of landlords vs. artists, business ethics vs. moral issues, and more. I didn’t want to use the images as a weapon, or as a pointing finger of what is good and what is bad. I was ,mostly, interested in my own progress of expression, incorporating the freedom of using multiple images and Photoshop filters, dissecting smaller fractions of a bigger “canvas” of images, etc. This body of work has been quite successful, and a lot of people were impressed by the series, and told me that they see it as an original new artistic way to show work that deals with Judaism.
The “Hope For Peace” series is a self portrait series that I did while serving for the IDF in South Lebanon, expressing my frustration, fear and complex emotions while on duty without really being in support of it, ideologically. I was using theatrical makeup (that was an influence from Sankai Juko, a Japanese Butoh dance company that performed in Jerusalem at the same time).
We know that you are a well known and very likable gent in your neighborhood, the famous Bushwick section of Brooklyn. Something tells us that you are born genuinely likable and talented. What tips can you share with others who wish to increase their likability and talent levels on a daily basis?
In term of tips I can share with others regarding likability, I would say that one of the most important things that is affecting it, is communication, understanding and the ability to listen to the others. Before saying what you think, listen to what the other person feels or thinks about any topic. You don’t always have to agree with them, but, at least you’ll have the perspective that you might not have been aware of until then. Also, always acknowledge others for the work or contribution directly linked with you.
As far as being a talented artist…I would say that one has to be true to themselves, and always express themselves, after probing into their own Psyche. Bring out the issues that really matter or are interesting to them. In this way he/she would be unique, since there no substitute to ourselves. No fear to express an opinion, or try a new technique. And, most importantly…work, work, work.
Making art is like any other job…it’s about producing.
A photographer with assignments for major publications. A fine artist. And a gallery owner. What is the coolest part of each role and the most draining side?
As photographer who gets assignments, the coolest part is to be commissioned to take photographs of someone you always wanted to meet and spend some time with them (could be a CEO, a famous actor or anyone else) …even if it’s just a short hour, which happens sometimes.
As a fine artist, the coolest, yet challenging part is to execute an idea you had in a visual way with an element of uniqueness, and watch the reaction of the public’s scrutinizing eyes.
As a gallery owner, I can participate in various art fairs and introduce (and sell) art that I like of other artists, as well as of my own.
The drawbacks of all of the above is that it’s a Lot of Work…sometimes too much. A lot of times, especially before any given art fair, I have to dedicate most of my time to other artists’ works, so I produce less of my own. I think that along the way I won’t represent my own work. I’ll let another gallery do it.
You’ve said you decided to open a gallery in Bushwick after two of the galleries that showed your work there closed their doors. Counterstream and on point. Can you give us a scenario that exemplifies all the change that has taken place in Bushwick?
Bushwick is very different now than 8 years ago. About eight years ago, when I was planning on opening a gallery on Bogart St., the landlord, Leib, who kept my deposit for 6 months told me after these 6 months that a consultant advised him to open a restaurant or a bar, rather than a galley. There was a certainty that this area that wasn’t ready, yet, to have a successful gallery to draw in crowds. He might have been right, then…although I don’t think he was right bouncing the check he gave me back (after holding my money for 6 months), and declining my request to pay me the my $105 bank fees that I was charged as a result of the check he gave that bounced. But that’s a different story. He, now, graces the catalog that was created for my show: “LandLords.” Nowadays, a gallery is very welcome in Bushwick. There are about 60 galleries all around. Although some landlords don’t encourage it, especially in the Jefferson Subway (depends which building.) Also the rental prices went up about twice higher (!) than what they were 10 years ago. You can find a bar or a restaurant on every corner. Outdoor advertising companies are renting every other empty wall and alluring advertisers to post ads for their companies, especially beer and hard liquor, since most of the visitors that are rushing to Bushwick are coming in to drink and dine and have a good time…some come to see art.
Through your work you have met many famous people, interesting people, and probably even some sad people. What’s the most memorable thing you’ve heard from any of them?
I learn a lot from my subjects in photography sessions. I like to have conversation with them…tell them my stories, and hear theirs. During a session with Michael Stipe at his apartment in New York City in 1999, between the different set-ups I created, mostly with lights, I was taking candid shots of him. At one particular time, he was holding the phone next to his ear with one hand, and pouring water from a tea pot to a cup with his other hand. I snapped a few pictures, apologizing to him that I am interrupting him while he’s on the phone. He stopped his phone conversation, put down the tea pot, stared at me fiercely and said: “Don’t apologize. Just do what you got to do!”
This was a great encouragement to me. From that moment, whenever I’m not sure whether I am interrupting any situation, his sentence echoes in my head, and gives me another chance to evaluate the situation and decide click the shutter speed , or just give up on the opportunity to create another, possibly, memorable image.
A bitter-sweet situation occurred on another portrait photo shoot I did of Mary J. Blige on one of the sets that I prepared for her (artificial trees stems and fake butterflies)… She closed her eyes while clutching her hands, and her face expression showed some kind of agony. It looked very interesting, and I took about 10 photographs. I thought she is getting into a character while I was taking the pictures. Then she opened her eyes. I asked her what was going on in her mind while she was creating that charismatic pose, she stared at me and answered plainly, “It’s that time of the month!"
As an experienced artist and as a gallery owner, what are the top five key points young, emerging artists should never forget?
The top five points that emerging artists should never forget are:
1- You are never too old to start a new approach for your art, even a new career. Some artists are emerging at a later age. For instance, Sebastiao Salgado switched from economics to photography when he was almost 30 years of age.
2- Don’t try to please anyone but yourself with your art. You are the first and most important audience of your art, and you are the one who should be pleased, invigorated, seduced or intrigued by it, first. Then the others will follow.
You should create works that matter to you.
If your aim is to please others, first, it falls into the category of commercial work (and there is nothing wrong with it…it’s just a different field.)
3- Work every day on your art. Even by just re-searching, reading…but, mostly, by actual producing work.
When you think you’re done for the day…try a bit more.
4- Never expect to earn money from your work. If you will, it will be a great bonus. A lot of famous artist got big after they died.
5- Be generous with your work. Give it as gifts, sometimes. The rewards will come back to you.
What are some exciting events featuring your work and some of the best upcoming shows in your gallery?
I am very excited to announce that the gallery space is moving a few doors forward on the first floor on 56 Bogart St. building, to the first space by the entrance. The room has a lot of character, including dark reddish-brown wood panels on the main wall and it’s drenched with great natural light.
We are going to start the fall season on September 11, 2015, and we have a few exciting shows lined up. We’ll announce details at the end of August.
Also, another main project that I have been working on for a while is in high gear now. It’s the book, “Bushwick Forever.” Stay tuned!
Please visit my works on-line : rafaelfuchscontemporary.com
Also, visit us at the gallery space as well as on-line, at: at fuchsprojects.com or at https://www.facebook.com/FuchsProjects?fref=ts
To view full article, click HERE
INTERVIEW: “ICONS” PORTRAIT SERIES BY RAFAEL FUCHS
18 Iconic celebrity Polaroids taken between 1997 and 2004 are now for auction on ARTNET
July 2015 Written by: Chad Saville
Rafael Fuchs is a Tel Aviv-born photographer and gallery owner living and working in Bushwick, Brooklyn. He began producing “Icons,” a series of Polaroids featuring some of the largest celebrities of the 1990’s and 2000’s while working commercial jobs. The series is currently being featured onARTNET. Fuchs was kind enough to tell us a bit about the series and his life as a photographer.
For the uninitiated, who are you and what do you do?
Hi, My name is Rafael Fuchs. I am a photographer. I was born in Tel Aviv and moved to NY in the 80’s.
I have been living in Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York for the past 10 years, and started a gallery 3 years ago, entitled “Fuchs Projects.”
Can you tell us about the series? What inspired it and how long were you shooting these portraits.
The Polaroids series started as a practice when I was shooting analog back in the 1990s as “test images” before I shot the “real film” for each session I was doing. It started as a practical tool to examine exposure and composition, and it grew on me as its own style. I really liked the immediacy of the results when working with Polaroids, and being able to show it to the subjects created more intimacy and trust between us, and helped us with exploring further scenarios during the sessions. I also liked the imperfections that occurred every now and then while peeling the Polaroid.
When I started shooting digital, I continued using Polaroids with an analog camera—mostly big format 4″x5”. The portraits, which are a part of the “Icons” on-line auction by artnet were done between 1997-2004, at the turn of the millennium when digital was replacing analog in the common markets and everyday life.
What was the process of shooting all thee people?
Most of the portraits were shot as an assignments for different magazines, as Entertainment Weekly, Vanity Fair, Time, Newsweek, People, Fortune, The Source, and more. Some were done in a studio, and I would bring, occasionally, some props that I felt would be appropriate with the subject and their latest project ,as the “wicked” dinner I assembled for Jonathan Franzen, with inedible moss as the main course, to go with his book “The Corrections”, or the life saver I brought to the shoot with Bob Denver, who played Gilligan in Gilligan’s island. Some of the shoots were done on locations, so I was using some elements that were a part of the background, and picked certain spots in the natural surrounding, as the blue cushioned walls of the staircase in the club “Spy” in Houston, TX when I was shooting Beyonce, or the fireplace section in Michael Stipe’s apartment in NY, using different color gels for my lights.
Also, those shots of Geraldo Rivera are kind of amazing. What was that shoot like?
The assignment of Geraldo Rivera was commissioned by People magazine, for their story about “Men and their toys.” It was done in the compound he owned in NJ, by the water. We set the wardrobe racks for the shoot in one of his car garages while he was on his boat sailing, but when he returned and was striding towards us without a shirt, I asked him to have his portrait taken next to his vintage (1954) Jaguar cars as he was, shirtless, and he had no problems agreeing. He knew he looked good. Only afterwards we went through the wardrobe we brought and picked different shirts for him. The photographs without the shirts were not published, not surprisingly. By the way, I don’t want to change the triumphant mood, but both cars (that Geraldo was dedicating to his two sons in his will) were destroyed when his garage, unfortunately, burst into flames last year.
Was JK Rowling cool? She went from being a broke single mom to the richest writer in history or something. What’s she like?
JK Rowling was super cool. She would do any pose I asked her to do without holding back. She was very playful with the props that I got to the shoot, as the crystal ball, and other items, and was posing wearing the red velvet dress I got her from a wardrobe rental place. She loved the set I created the day before the shoot. I was lucky to spend half a day with her, keeping playing together and trying different props and poses. Apparently, that was her only shoot in her career that she was so generous with her poses and willingness to play the role of a magical character.
The shot of Burt is iconic. What did you use to set that mood. What references went into the aesthetic?
For the shoot with Burt Reynolds that was set in a studio in Manhattan I created two main sets: one with hay and a painted backdrop of sunset using bright lights (he asked to have the hay stacks removed from that set), and the other set had a darker mood feeling, with a painted backdrop of stormy sky, that I rented for the shoot. I just wanted to have a couple of different sets that evoked different moods. He loved the darker set, and walked right into it as he entered in the studio, saying that he’s ready for the shoot.
It was, actually, his coat that he was wearing, and he was getting into a character as soon as he stepped in front of that one light that I placed for this particular set. He was completely different while shooting in the “sunny” set…very animated. I guess the darker set was a good slow start for a great day of portraits sessions.
What are you presently working on, and what’s next?
Right now I am completing the 5th. work for an art commission from a Swiss collector. The series is done in a photo collage style, and it depicts portraits of women that I have been taking throughout the years combined with images of birds.
After this I will concentrate on editing and publishing the book “Bushwick Forever.” that will include photographs from my personal social documentary in Bushwick in the past decade, of people and places in this special neighborhood that gained the title of “arguably the coolest place on the planet” by NY Times magazine.
That’s great Rafael. Thank you so much for speaking with us.
Thank you sir.
To view the full article click HERE
Putnam County Courier
Whipple Brings City Art to Putnam County
July 2015 Written by: Aidan Galligan
This past Saturday, Brooklyn came to Carmel. To celebrate its opening, the Whipple House hosted an exhibition composed of works from diverse artists from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick.
The featured artists were Rafael Fuchs, Skewville, and Alexandra Pacula. Of the three artists, only Fuchs was present.
Fuchs provided a guided tour of his works of photography, answering questions and providing an in-depth explanation of the inspiration and process for each print. Fuchs is a photographer and the owner and founder of the Fuchs Projects, a gallery in Bushwick dedicated to displaying the works of emerging artists.
Skewville and Pacula were represented by curator and gallery owner Alex Tanaka of Mighty Tanaka gallery. Tanaka provided a guided tour of his artists’ works as well, providing insightful commentary. Skewville, a duo of artistic twins, focuses mainly on street art, both graffiti and installations. They are most renowned for two works, a sign with the stylized word “Hype” printed on it, and a series of silk screened cutouts of wooden shoes, most with references and homages to Brooklyn. Pacula, the other artist represented by Tanaka, utilizes pencil, paint, and other mediums to recreate urban scenes rife with movement.
Her focus is the idea of motion in New York City, her works featuring blurred lights, busy pedestrians, and passing vehicles. While both Fuchs and Tanaka are very passionate about Bushwick and the artistic talent there, they commented that it was fantastic to get out to Putnam and display their art in such a unique and different setting.
George Whipple, the evening’s host, first became aware of Bushwick’s growing and talented artistic community when he accidentally sent Tanaka an email. After the two made contact, Whipple decided he had to go see Bushwick for himself. Whipple described the sense of discovery upon witnessing Bushwick artistry firsthand: “There were people creating art I hadn’t seen anything like since the ‘80s.” Whipple felt he had to bring some of Bushwick back with him to Carmel, both for himself and for those who might never happen upon it otherwise. The gallery was well attended and permeated by a general air of enthusiasm and joviality.
To view full article click HERE
Long Island For Sale
Fuchs Projects Gallery: Telling Stories
June 2015 Written by: Jeff Caton
A German documentary film on photographer Rafael Fuchs shows the New York artist and gallery owner walking the streets of Bushwick, Brooklyn. He greets and is greeted by everyone, not with polite nods but with hearty handshakes and vibrant talk. Just watching him interact with his neighbors lets you know Fuchs, owner of Fuchs Projects Gallery, is an active participant in his environment- someone who affects it and who lets it affect him.Fuchs's gallery features primarily photographic art, and he points out with pride that it is the only such gallery on the emerging Bushwick scene. "I focus on photography since this is the practice of my art since the 80's," says Fuchs, a graduate of the photography department of Bezalel Art Academy in Jerusalem. "Personally, my photography practices have been evolving from narrative images to more complex and layered works, based on photography, that tells a story." The layering Fuchs refers to takes many forms in his art, from the juxtaposition of images (e.g., the interplay between images of Hasidic men and nude women in his controversial collection 'LandLords') to relatively conventional superimposition, to complex relationships among candid and posed, black-and-white and color, Dali-esque trompe l'oeil and every conceivable technique of saturation and over- and under-exposure.
One result of this practice is that Fuchs's work defies our readily identifying a single style. A tour through his collections, however, gradually reveals a penchant for stark juxtaposition with crisp cropping edges, a flamboyance with the human form, and a subdued but pervasive sense of humor.
Born in Tel Aviv, Fuchs is now an avowed New Yorker, and like many artists, he is drawn irresistibly to the creative energy of the city. "Generally, most artists want to be in the center of where it's happening," he says. "In this regard , Bushwick right now is a very hot place for emerging artists and new galleries. I decided to open my own gallery after two solo shows that I had with two different galleries in Bushwick in 2006 and 2010. Both galleries closed their doors shortly after, and I was really disappointed. It wasn't the right time for the galleries to thrive in this area. Fast forward four years, I adapted the DIY motto, and created my own gallery."
It was in his former studio on Bleecker St., though, that Fuchs produced the photographs that have perhaps been his most controversial. Among his plainest, most conventional images, 'Twin Towers' depicts acquaintances of Fuchs's, who happened to be at the studio at the time, posed on the building's roof with the World Trade Center in the background, smoke billowing from what all present still presumed to be an accident. The attitudes of the subjects are variously serious and sanguine, with a kind of ironic detachment.
Many who viewed the photos at a show in 2012 challenged Fuchs on their appropriateness. Others have been grateful for the document. A case of shooting the messenger, perhaps, but Fuchs is the kind of engaged artist who relentlessly brings messages about his immediate surroundings, such as his photographs of fellow Israeli soldiers and Palestinian children from the early 1980s, and thereby whether he likes or intends it or not, inevitably courts controversy. Arguably, though, Fuchs's art defends itself ably with a clear-eyed but unwavering humanity.
It is his generosity of spirit and genuine love of artistic expression that characterizes Fuchs the gallery owner. Here he comments on his preference for representing younger artists.
"I love featuring emerging to mid-career artists. It fulfills me and give me a lot of pleasure to help emerging artists whose work I love, to achieve their goals, as well as introducing their work to a collector or a visitor at the gallery, that, obviously, has never heard about them." He thinks and adds, "The art of emerging artists is, a lot of times, purer than their work as they get more matured- at least during the very few years of their career. Before they evolve, they express themselves in a raw way, and sometimes they get a bit stiffer- until they break free again."
It is that idea of breaking free again that seems to drive Fuchs, and his escapes from formal and thematic monotony seem to come from his direct engagement with the physical world and community around him. Like most areas of life, the world of art and galleries forms an echo chamber. Sometimes buzzwords and catchphrases are exchanged in conversation like an inflated currency. Perhaps our society's endless, and endlessly ironic, reiteration of the injunctive "Think outside the box" best captures the claustrophobia these chambers- be they art galleries, sports talk shows or board meetings- can occasion.
At the heart of an echo, though, is an original utterance, something said with such purpose and force that it resounds in its environment. Ever attentive to the meeting-place of creativity and influence, Rafael Fuchs, the artist and the curator, is walking Brooklyn on a quest for the hearts of echoes.
Read the full article click HERE
Rafael Fuchs: 100 Polaroids
September 2014 Written by: Sara Rosen
Located in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Fuchs Projects was founded by Rafael Fuchs in 2012. As Fuchs observes. “Bushwick, the way I see it, is a place where people do things. When I first arrived here, I was fascinated by the fact that I don’t have to go very far if I want to create a frame made or metal, if I want to create/order a wooden cabinet, or even if I want to buy a thousand fortune cookies. Within a distance of a couple of blocks away from my place I can find metal welding shops, wood shops, clothing manufacturers, cement factory, book binders and many other different manufacturers.
“It is definitely an industrial zone (at least, by the Morgan Ave. stop of the L train, where my studio is), which has been changing its status to more residential zone. Yet, the structure still exists, and the factories that have been converted to residential spaces or studio spaces for artists (as painters, sculptor makers, musicians, dancers, photographers and more) still keep their characteristics. Due to the industrial structure, Bushwick has become a hub for many artists that have been coming here in the past 10 years or so, in order to find a big space for a relatively low rent, in order to create their art, although the rent has gotten higher in the past two years.”
Opening Friday, September 5 at 6:00pm, Fuchs presents a collection of his work titled, “100 Polaroids From the Turn of the Millennium.” On view through October 5 at 56 Bogart Street #1E, Brooklyn, “100 Polaroids” is a tribute to the medium itself.
As Fuchs reveals, “I love Polaroids. Nothing compares in the whole photography realm to the experience of those seemingly ‘endless’ moments of anticipation for the image (you just took) to be processed, and, magically, be revealed on the surface of this blank...Polaroid. Sometime I want to repeat that magic and shoot just with Polaroids, since they have their own characteristics and charm.
“In this current digital photography era, it is my choice to shoot with Polaroids every so often, with whatever Polaroids that are left on my shelves or whatever I can find in the stores, (since the Polaroid company ceased its production on Feb. 2008.)
“Back in the turn of the Millennium I used the Polaroids, mostly, as a tool to predict what the images would look like before I would transition to shoot with films, using the same settings of the camera. The magic was always there, but the Polaroid served more as a necessary step in the course of a photo session. The Polaroid also helped communicating between me and the subjects, and established trust and intimacy. It was also an affirmation to the photo editors, art directors, or PR people that were on the set, regarding the direction that the photo shoot was going.
“In the show ‘100 Polaroids From The Turn Of The Millennium’ I decided to put together a collection of Polaroids that I took as a part of photo sessions that I was commissioned to do with people that were shaping (or about to shape) the face of culture and society at that era (especially the American society), and were about to put a lasting imprint on our society.”
The subjects range from Entertainment (Burt Reynolds, Emily Watson, Heather Graham, Julia Stiles, Geoffrey Rush, David Blaine, Nathan Lane) to Literature (Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers, R.L. Stine, Candace Bushnell, Harold Bloom, Walter Mosley,J.K. Rowling); from Music (Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Michael Stipe, Tony Bennett, Sean Paul) to Commerce (George Steinbrenner, Barry Diller), and beyond.
Fuchs notes, “I am selling the originals. I am also making editions of prints just to a few Polaroid images that my laptop ‘deformed’ the colors on the screen when it was over-heated, and I embraced and captured that transformation and dramatic shift of colors. For this show, I am setting a very affordable price, since I am sure that a savvy collector will grab that opportunity to have this body of work in their collection, which will enable me to continue with my gallery project.
“The decision to cross the path and become a gallery owner and show my work there (while, still, being an active photographer), came to me in 2012 after the closing of two galleries that I had solo shows in. I took notes from other artists in the area of Bushwick (as well in other parts of the world, and in different eras), that opened their own exhibit spaces, and decided to show my own work whenever I am ready, and have also a space for emerging photographers, mostly from the area.
“Another reason that prompted me to open my own gallery is the fact that I've been producing quite a lot of bodies of works, and I didn't think that any gallery will be able to accommodate those different works in the pace that I would like to show. For me, showing the work is a part of the process of growing. I like to challenge myself (and the viewers) by taking a chance and putting up a body of work of mine, even though that I know that months later, in a retrospect, I would realize that at least 40% of it should not be on the wall at that time or, at least, not in the presentation that I chose for that show. It is very different to view work on a monitor than to see it printed on the wall, and the gallery space is my laboratory.
“I don’t consider myself as the best sales person. I am a photographer, first, then a dealer. I might be very engaging talking about my work, but I know that in the gallery and art world you have to be very slick, persuasive and shrewd at times. I’m none of the above. Although I did, successfully, place artworks in new homes (as you’d say in the gallery world) for quite a few works of the artists that show at the gallery, including myself. In my opinion, succeeding in a gallery world is being able to place artworks in museums. I am on my way of getting there.
Sometimes I think about myself as an outsider in the world of photography, although, I know that a lot of people would not agree with me.”
To see full article click HERE
NO. 3 Magazine
The Budding Bushwick Art Scene: Featuring Rafael Fuchs
September 2014 Written by: Vita Duva
ART TALK with Israeli Photographer and Gallery Owner Rafael Fuchs
May 28th 2014 Written by: Kate Messinger
My name: Rafael Fuchs
Born: Tel Aviv, Israel, and moved to the USA in the mid 80′s
Lives: Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York
What was your first experience with art?
My first experience with art…probably being a baby or a toddler, without even comprehending what it is. But I do remember the first time when I realized the the importance of art, or the prominence of art, at least through the eyes of an artist. In this case it was Picasso. When I studied photography in Bezalel Art Academy in Jerusalem one of my favorite classes was an art history class (conducted by the late Professor Moti Omer, who became the director of The Tel Aviv Museum afterwards). I was fascinated by the bold interpretation of Picasso of the masterpiece “Las Meninas” by Velazquez. especially the scale enlargement of the artist figure on the canvas.At the time I was obsessed with shooting self portraits…at home, in a studio, and even in a war zone (Lebanon) while I had to serve my obligatory duty to the Israeli army (a body of works that got me several awards). I would say that Picasso’s work gave me a sort of comfort and affirmation to continue working as an artist.
What or who inspires your work?
Man Ray, Robert Frank, Duane Michaels, Lucas Samaras, Helmut Newton, Sandy Skoglund, Garry Winogrand, Harry Callahan, Akira Kurosawa, Federico Fellini, Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, David Salle, Francesco Clemente, Enzo Cucchi.
What is there too much of?
What there is too much of is the social media phenomenon with its different platforms. All the different ways of communicating, all the immediacy of informing others whats on one’s plate (literally) or how one’s pet is twirling their tails, is just so unnecessary. I’d love it if there would be a majestic power that would limit each person with their options of tweets, postings and other ways of communicating. Of course, one can just shut off his/hers receptive tools to be less exposed to all the cats and food news feeds.
What are you obsessed with?
I’ve been obsessed lately with non-narrative photographs….with abstract photographs….with photographic images that were created without a camera , or photographs that were combined with other elements/materials in the final presentation.
What are you working on at the moment?
Currently, I am working on expanding my visual vocabulary from 2D photographic prints to also sculptural expressions. I started about 3 years ago experimenting with digital photomontages (I showed some in March, in a show titled “Landlords”) and I am taking those ideas from a 2D presentation to a 3D surface as well as audio-visual presentation.I am also finishing editing my long time project (10 years) of photographing my neighborhood, Bushwick, and will be ready to present it to potential publishers by the end of the Summer.
If you could be any person, place or thing?
I would pick a few options, but just for a short time (hours,days, weeks) just to have an understanding and the experience of others…but I would not commit to change completely. Who knows what kind of demons or conflicts other people carry? I would be someone else just to have an immediate access to where they can go, but then I’d switch back to myself, utilizing that experience or knowledge.
To see article from the Wild click HERE
The “Land lords” are taking over the city
March 9th 2014 Written by: Raquel Du Toit
Walking around the various art fairs over the weekend I entertained myself with the shiny pretty objects and large amounts of over priced Prosecco. Because seriously, that’s what you need to do just to survive the insane amount of similar shiny objectsthat are differentiated only by location of booth and name of venue. (see bottom for my definition of shiny) However, in the midst of my escape from Scope I stumbled on a stall that stood out. Mainly because it felt like home , Brooklyn, but also because I had just seen this artist last weekend at the Bushwick Beat Night.
( CCNY article continues below...)
The work of Rafael Fuchs stood out, like a soar thumb, and I was happy to see it there; throbbing away despite all the sleek shiny work around it. Rafael doesn’t hold back and makes no apologies. In this series called the “Land Lords” was not only the most controversial studio space at the Bushwick Beat Night ( all my friends HAD to see what the fuss was about) but also the most cutting edge. His merging of images in a collage style talks about the ever changing identity of Brooklyn. The vast array of culture that clashes in the day to day lives are shown with uncomfortable tension and at times questionable stance. The glossy Photoshop technique he uses, gives an element of advertising and a sense that there is more to convey about mass communication and mass media and how they influence the community of these cultures. He stakes in his bio that ” In the realm of art and commerce photography, he puts himself out there, and invites those who see themselves as test makers, to make judgements” . Rafael is not only testing the waters with his provocative imagery but also examining the roles people play within communities , perhaps exposing stereotypes and encouraging others. But with each image you question yourself ,and your role with each image that is in front of you. Thoughts on your own relationship to economy, rent, personal identity and culture becomes all part of the analysis of this work. Rafael Fuchs is originally from Tel Aviv and moved to New York in 1985 after getting his BFA in Bezalel Art Academy in Jerusalem. His has a vast array of work stemming from a humorous yet critical perspective of the world. This includes several videos he has made as well as Saturday night live appearance that on vimeo he calls his ” My 5 minutes of fame “. He also is prolific commercial photographer as well as documentary and several commissioned art pieces. But all in all he enjoys t push those buttons. Perhaps a bit too much at times , but at least they are beings pushed. After the shock of viewing the work I had to go back and re examine it several times. I love work that makes you question if it’s art. I love work that makes you want to go back and hate it; but in the end, its just stuck in your head. Repeating that darn tune over and over until it becomes part of you. And that is why his work … works. It was so stuck in my head, that when on the sunny Saturday walking around Scope I smiled. Dragged my Colombian friend over to the booth and said “don’t you just hate this … ” and she smiled and said “wow we just found art. ”
Check out more of his work at Rafael Fuchs for other projects look at www.fuschsprojects.com 56 Bogart St #1E Brooklyn NY 11206
*Shiny – super glam/ really well craftedbut perhaps too well crafted/ Cheesy/ to decorative/ trying to hard to be art/ overproduced/ tacky/ ok you get my point
CCNY's article link HERE
Photography and Years of Images: A Conversation with Rafael Fuchs
June 3rd, 2013 by Cat Agonis
Not only in greater Bushwick area is Rafael Fuchs known for photographing everyone, from locals to famous faces in the mags; everywhere, from streets to his studio. For Bushwick Open Studios, Fuchs pulled images from past to present, many of which were never seen before. Showing his work in his own gallery, Fuchs Projects at 56 Bogart St, he took the time to curate prints from various eras, grouping them together in a way that makes you say “Dayum! This dude has done A LOT.” Although it’s not a retrospect, it becomes a show within a show, with each crew of photos creating their own vision.
When you walk in, one wall has an immediate blast of vibrant portraits of peeps such as Patty Hearst and Malcom McLaren, taken from Fuchs’ days in the city some odd 30 years back (and yes we’re picturing some cray-cray parties and some dope clothes). Another group of photos exhibits vintage-inspired images, spanning over various eras, some of regular people, some of more celebrities, but many stunning in their use of light and shadow. As you move from set to set, you just don’t know what Fuchs is gonna bring next. Bring it on Fuchs!!
Visitors at Modernism of Curiosity by Rafael Fuchs/ Bushwick Open Studios June 2013
But one of the most fascinating parts of the show is a group of photos Fuchs took over the course of three months in Jerusalem in 1983. While his goal was to simply photograph the people around Jaffa Gate, his teacher told him his set of photos had political undertones. In one image, a boy against a wall shoots a toy-gun towards the lense. While taking the photo, Fuchs told the kid they could play a game where Fuchs would shoot him with the camera, and the boy could shoot him back with the gun. And while his teacher immediately stated he saw tension of the times in the image as well as in Fuchs’ entire project, Fuchs never intended that–he says he just liked Jaffa Gate and wanted to have fun photographing the people and scenes. These sorts of stories are what can make photography (and art in general!) so interesting. While the meaning behind it all may seem obvious, you sometimes really just don’t know.
And because Fuchs was part of our Guide to the O.G.’s of Bushwick, of course we had to ask him about the neighborhood, and what it’s been like for him through his years as a photographer on Bogart. When he first came to the hood in 2005, he had a loft showing at 11AM. He wanted to know his neighbors and asked the broker where everyone was. The broker told him they’d all be out later. It was too early, yo! While much has changed in the past decade in East Williamsburg’s originally-industrial front, that certainly seems to still be a trend.
Bushwick Daily's article link HERE
Curbs and Stoops
Rafael Fuchs: Narratives of Disturbance
June 30th, 2011 by Maria Anderson
I had a chance to catch up with Rafael Fuchs at the Bushwick Daily room in our Bushwick Open Studios shows. Last week I visited him at his studio near the Morgan L stop, where we spoke about some new prints this prominent contemporary photographer has been working on. Before meeting him, I’d heard Fuchs was a storyteller. Rafis everywhere, a guy in red jeans told me, describing seeing him waving him into the ferry on a visit to Governors Island. Rafael is an energetic, charismatic guy who looks a little restless in the rooms of slow-eyed people milling through. While we spoke, his eyes would move from the video camera he tilted toward my face and back down to the camera again as he watched me ask him a question through its tiny screen.
Rafaels art takes various forms in the realms of photography, video, and painting. His diverse ways of interacting with the medium coupled with his wry humor and outgoing personality garner him a wide body of work that attracts its fair share of followers. Born in Tel Aviv, he shares a birthday with Van Gogh and Goya. He is known for his war photography, which he showed in Paris in the 1980s. His commercial portfolio includes shots of Jonathan Franzen, JK Rowling, the All-Star Top Chef crew, John McCain, the guys from Queer Eye, and the magician David Blaine. Another series he has done is called It Will Never Be the Same.
In a departure from his previous works, Fuchs has created a series of layered, manipulated prints. The pixelated, distorted backgrounds came about by mistake via a damaged computer screen; Rafi’s methods of incorporating his mistakes and reexamining the print from an altered perspective grant freer, more spontaneous trajectories to the final product. The line drawings placed over the backdrops were inspired by nude photographs taken of a young local woman Rafael knew whom he later found out died from an overdose. I was unexpectedly touched by Fuchs's treatment of these photographs and of the questions these pieces raise about ownership, ownership of the product you create and of your own process. Fuchs clearly has instilled this project with emotional investment that takes risks. They work on so many different levels, and this texture and the vulnerability that slowly emerges after thinking about them and hearing him speak is what, among other things, creates an enduring interest in the Fuchs and in what projects he will next pursue.
This set of prints isolates the simple beauty of the female figure and superimpose it gently, tenderly onto a disturbed canvas of distorted colors, while the silk screen background makes you feel as though you've gone on a bender and emerged into a bleary-bright, unapologetic world.Fuchs is contemplating approaching the young woman's parents for permission to use the original images, and wondering whether or not he should use them in the first place. Fuchs says, "There is a chance that they might want to keep them in the drawer, and here comes my quest to whether they should be a decision maker at all for that. These are questions that I’m asking, being a parent myself, regarding my obligations to the art and my authority over my child’s images taken by others." He wants to honor the parents with the first viewing of the photographs and get their opinion, foremost, and also their blessings perhaps to think more about how he can further interact with the images of their daughter.
For this project, he opted to paint from the original images as a departure point, in order to share them with an audience in a way that avoided revealing a specific identity. The prints are also an invitation for people who knew the unnamed woman to perhaps approach him, a theme I’ve noticed in several of his works. There is a chance the original photos will never be shown. Line drawings were his way of beginning to approach this concept of ownership and of the death of a woman he knew well.
Transport and stasis are a theme present in the prints, and the tension between the two, along with the figures painted in white, call to mind the notion of trapped spirits, of the ethereal undead, and of the elevated planes of thought and emotion accessible when contemplated in the light of passing. By including his daughter and another friend’s figures in the images, this exploration of one girl’s life becomes an allegory for that of all women, for daughters, wives, mothers, and for what can go wrong in the life of a young woman transitioning toward adulthood. There is a Wallace Stevens poem that has a line that goes “death is the mother of beauty,” which poses the idea that physical beauty may be rendered and remembered by these drawings.
In one two girls are sitting on a car in front of a local "Checks Cashed" sign, a photograph Fuchs took in Brooklyn, describing visiting the place check in hand and asking for cash at the counter. He perhaps feels an affinity for these women, and a sense of the struggle apparent even in their lazily seductive, languorous poses. The urgency of this struggle can be guessed at from the figure of his daughter and from the distorted backgrounds that together paint a picture of a fast-moving world, peopled with layered notions it calls forth for the viewer of transport, mass media and its imagery, advertisements and sex.
His daughter appears below another figure outlined in white. She plays in a jazz band–Fuchs showed me the video. As I listened to her play with my ear pressed to the video camera, I stared at the prints and it occurred to me that a strong note of concern plays in the work. And this anxiety seems to relate not only an anxiety for the female or the daughter in this changing world. When faced with examining society and the people who populate its neighborhoods, this individual, this guy who is charged with capturing people on film is worried with the face society presents him to represent. He is one person worried with the view his community, Bushwick, has offered him of its people.
The process by which Rafael interacted with the photographs and created the layered final product are a meditation perhaps on his emotions toward the female, toward what this death means for Rafael as both a friend and a lover as well as a father, and seems to call out a subtle sensuality in the figures. There is a beauty in the distortion, which is slightly unsettling beneath the ghost-like figures. In one image, two women lie together imposed over sunken boat in the background with a tipped skyline. The beauty in these pieces for me comes through in this feeling of being unsettled–something is not right for the character whose narrative the prints share with us.
Curbs And Stoops articlelink HERE
9/11 Photographs disturb some and comfort others
September 12 2012
When photographer Rafael Fuchs set out one morning to take his daughter to kindergarten, it was an ordinary late summer day in New York City. After he kissed her goodbye, he glanced down the avenue and saw smoke billowing into the sky. He tried to get closer but was rebuffed, so he headed over to his studio, on Broadway and Bleecker St. That ordinary day, of course, would turn out to be anything but. “After I dropped my daughter off at Ninth Avenue and 14th St., I heard some people saying that an airplane had hit one of the towers of theWorld Trade Center,” said Fuchs. “So I immediately went to the subway, taking the ‘E’ train, trying to go to the area, but I was stopped around Houston St. So I went to my studio, which is at Broadway and Bleecker, and went up to the roof.” There he ran into a few people who were watching the event unfolding. “The super of the building, my studio manager, a guy who had just dropped off some contact sheets, a few other neighbors and workers, and we didn’t know what had happened,” said Fuchs. “We didn’t really have a sense of people burning up, or dying there, we didn’t know.”
So Fuchs began doing what he knows best, and started taking photographs from the rooftop, documenting the terrible scene taking place just a little more than a mile away downtown. “And then I decided to document the people as well,” he said. “To take a portrait of them with this bizarre, horrific, scenario in the background.” He photographed their reactions and expressions. “I wasn’t directing anyone at all, I was letting them naturally express how they felt,” he said. “So, one guy was standing very still and severe, another was holding his head in disbelief, and some were even slightly smiling.” In one of the photos, a man can be seen holding up two fingers in a ‘V’. “I asked him what that was, and he said it was for the two buildings that had gotten hit. It somehow didn’t make much sense, but we didn’t yet know at the time that it was a terrorist attack.”
Born in Tel Aviv, Fuchs has been living and working in New York City since 1985. He works out of a studio on Bogart St., in the artsy Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick. Fuchs has been a commercial photographer for years, shooting celebrities and newsmakers for such publications asLife magazine and Newsweek. He has also worked on ad campaigns for Coke, Pepsi, and Visa. But this was something different. “Everyone was affected somehow from this event,” he said. “You can see it in their faces in lots of different ways. My photography, everything, my life, changed after that. I still was doing lots of commercial work, but my focus was starting to shift to a more personal type of work. This was something really, really, big. A catastrophe. I became more interested in shooting something that really hits me, that amazes me, whether it’s beautiful, or horrific, or something that I have questions about. My passion was with my personal photography.”
Some people have been very disturbed by Fuchs’ images, which show people at their most natural-maybe somewhat bewildered by the events unfolding in front of them, but not necessarily emotional. “I showed the photos to a few people and they got really irritated,” said Fuchs, “which means that actually it’s a strong picture. But then I was thinking, what about Spiegelman’s ‘Maus’? Cartoons about Nazis? My father is a Holocaust survivor. What am I supposed to think about it? This is not the right artistic expression to do it? Well this is my artistic language. I was lucky to be able to document it, and to document other people who were experiencing this event with me.”
Eleven years later, on the anniversary of the most deadly terrorist attack on U.S. soil, there is still much controversy over how to portray September 11th, its aftermath, and the people who died and lost loved ones. No one agrees on what sort of restraint may be called for, and New Yorkers seem to have wildly divergent views on public discussions and portrayals of that tragic day. Rafael Fuchs is no different. “It still puzzles me,” he said. “I have had people, after seeing these photos, come up to me and hug me. And others have gotten aggressive, demanding that I defend the photos. Maybe these photos are a manifestation of my not being able to get down there; but people have to understand that there are different languages to describe the same scene.”
The Examiner_about the 911 images. click HERE
To see article in the JEWISH RENAISSANCE click HERE
I Am Amerikan