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Ken Schles: Night Walk
Text by Ken Schles, T.S. Eliot.
"A provocative narrative of lost youth and a private view of an irretrievable downtown New York as Schles saw and experienced it.” –Musee MagazineTwenty-five years after his seminal 1988 book, Invisible City, Ken Schles revisits his archive and fashions a narrative of lost youth--a delirious, peripatetic walk in the evening air of an irretrievable downtown New York as he saw and experienced it. Night Walk is a substantive and intimate chronicle of New York's last pre-internet bohemian outpost, a stream-of-consciousness portrayal that peels back layers of petulance and squalor to expose the frisson and striving of a life lived amongst the rubble. Here Schles embodies the flâneur as Susan Sontag defines it, as a "connoisseur of empathy … cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes." We see in Night Walk a new and revelatory Ulysses for the twenty-first century--a searching tale of wonder and desire, life and love in the dying hulk of a ruined American city.
Featured image, "Chazz Showing His Package, Lower East Side" (1986), is reproduced from Ken Schles: Night Walk. Featured video, below, is the official book trailer.
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
If you love Ken Schles book Invisible City you will be excitied about the follow up. Nearly 30 years after Invisible City. New York City alive in the eighties. East village. Shot by one of Americas most underrated photographers. Printing by Steidl these days is amazing and super close to good old Gravure printing. Finally published!
Night Walk is an essential companion to the new, long-awaited reprint of Schles' gritty 1988 classic Invisible City. A document of life on Manhattan's Lower East Side as it went through the death throes of being a dirty, lawless pocket of the city, Invisible City and Night Walk evokes a sense of danger and fun in roaming through this veritable no man's land. The grainy black-and-white photos make you feel like you're falling through a dream.
The New York Times
The resulting book, "Night Walk", is the retrospective glance of a father of two living in Fort Greene, in Brooklyn. It is "much more about the people and the vitality," he said. "There's an excitement about going out. In 'Invisibile city,' there's a darkness to the book."
Spirit & Flesh
Whether you have lived in New York your entire life, or have visited periodically you know that the city changes at light-speed, each new persona covering the last. Twenty five years ago, photographer Ken Schles published Invisible City a diminutive, landmark monograph which recorded a gritty, jittery black and white version of New York, populated by its denizens, in what at times looks like a war zone. The city was struggling, darker; in a kind of perpetual night. Happiness seemed fleeting, and was embraced, wherever and whenever it was found. Try as we might to polish New York’s image these days as a safe, shiny, world destination Ken’s vision is indelibly a part of the city as well, a part of who we were, who we are.
Commemorating the 25th anniversary of the publication, Ken is collaborating with Steidl Publishers to beautifully re-print Invisible City, along with a new monograph from the same time period, Night Walk Together, they represent a powerful portrait of a city we rarely see or talk about anymore dangerous, smoldering, sexual… alive.
Los Angeles Review of Books
Twenty-six years later, master printer-publisher Gerhard Steidl agreed to recreate Invisible City for a pent-up demand. While Schles sifted through the original shots, he realized there were enough for a companion book, which became Night Walk (a title he borrowed from an Octavio Paz poem).
In 1983, Ken Schles moved into an apartment on Avenue B in the East Village. His windows were boarded up because his landlord said that junkies could steal the gates with a crowbar. This worked to Schles’s advantage – he set up a darkroom. Life moved at a tumultuous pace. Downstairs, a woman with three kids was a heroin addict and dealers used her apartment as a shooting gallery. The city shut down the boiler in the building, which was spewing carbon monoxide. With scenes like this playing out daily right outside his doorstep, Schles found gripping subject matter in and around the neighborhood.
The exhibition presents images from both Night Walk and Invisible City, revealing a provocative narrative of lost youth and a private view of an irretrievable downtown New York as Schles saw and experienced it.
International New York Times
Ken Schles portrays New York’s gritty Lower East Side in the 1980s in ‘‘Invisible City/Night Walk, 1983-1989’’ at the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York, Jan. 29 to March 14, an exhibition of 40 of his black-and-white photographs that coincides with the publication of ‘‘Night Walk’’ (Steidl), a companion to his underground cult classic ‘‘Invisible City,’’ 1988. Mr. Schles lived among the boarded-up buildings and heroin addicts during that decade, turning his blighted apartment into a darkroom to process photographs of a city on the edge.
The Wall Street Journal
The sites around his old apartment provide the backdrop for "Invisible City," a photography book from 1988 that has been reissued with a new companion volume, "Night Walk," by the German art-book imprint Steidl. The books compile photos that Mr. Schles took of his surroundings, both good and bad.
Some of the grainy, black-and-white pictures portray abandoned buildings and rubble in what looks like a war-torn country. Others focus on social life and parties in 1980s neighborhood institutions like Limbo Lounge, 8BC and ABC No Rio.
L'Oeil de la Photographie
The images are imbued with the same fury as those in Invisible City, but here they serve life and love. Invisible City glowed with the cinders of the East Village, while the flames in Night Walk illuminate the streets or the tops of birthday cakes. The atmosphere is intact, but the restless night walk ends with a long, romantic scene in Schles’s brick apartment. From his window, we see the metal fire escapes that still today trace oblique lines across the Village’s buildings. “Human beings exist in a word of fantasy,” Schles told the Los Angeles Review of Book. “We trust [photographs] more than we trust memory because memory is ephemeral.” Invisible City mourned a vanished city. Night Walk rebuilt it.
The exhibition presents a provocative narrative of lost youth and a private view of an irretrievable downtown New York as Schles saw and experienced it
The Brooklyn Rail
Like his contemporary Nan Goldin, Schles’s snapshot aesthetic is intensely personal and comes from a common photographic desire to document, record, and preserve one’s life and surroundings. Lovers and friends are regular characters, but we’re also given a broader perspective into a small segment of New York City’s fringes. Casual portraits are interspersed with images of garbage-strewn streets or found details, like an abandoned baby carriage in an empty hallway. Throughout his images, Schles makes ample use of blur and grain, as well as a variety of different light sources, from a bright flash to a single light bulb, to illuminate his subjects. At times the scenes are shocking—like the burning buildings or half-naked addicts strung out on a filthy toilet—but other times they are tender, as with the images of a man stepping from a tenement bath or the young couple watching distant fireworks from their roof.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
So intimate and direct, that it sometimes pains the eyes. They are marked by a lust for life out of control.
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FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 3/10/2015
"I lay these fragments before you," photographer Ken Schles writes in Night Walk, the acclaimed contemporary companion to his pioneering 1988 photobook Invisible City, available now in a masterfully-printed new edition by Steidl. "What has since been rebuilt now reverts back to its former state of skeletal ruin. The dead reappear, hurry about and whisper their siren songs into your ear. Where once the journey was open-ended and uncertain, it now leads to an inevitable end. The living recognize in the past only what the living choose to remember or refuse to forget. In truth the past never reveals itself so readily or so fully—for even the dead once lived lives of complication and consequence, immeasurably filled with uncertainty and price. The man speaks to the boy now. He cannot help but to try to tell him what was meant to be seen; what he hopes will be remembered. All else has been annihilated. I lay these fragments before you, so that you may remember them too." Easily one of the best photobooks of 2014, Night Walk concludes with a dedication to the memory of those who died "in the scourge of AIDS and violence that gripped the East Village during the 1980s." Work from both books can be seen through Saturday at Howard Greenberg Gallery. continue to blog
USD $40.00 | CAN $54
Pub Date: 2/24/2015
Active | In stock
USD $45.00 | CAN $60
Pub Date: 2/24/2015
Active | In stock