jade doskow

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about world's fair project

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Jade Doskow has lived in New York since 1996, and currently lives and works in Red Hook, Brooklyn with her husband, the painter Lambert Fernando. Doskow first received her BA at New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study, then in 2008 earned her MFA at the School of Visual Arts, also in New York. She has been the recipient of numerous honors, including the Herbert C. Rubin Award for Visual Arts, an Alumni Scholarship award from the School of Visual Arts, and as 2009 finalist in the international Photolucida competition. Her work has been featured in ACurator.com; Photo District News; Visual Arts Journal; and the Morning News.

Doskow is on the faculty of both the School of Visual Arts and the International Center of Photography in New York, where she instructs on architectural photography. She exhibits her photography frequently; in 2010 exhibitions included Urban Utopia at 32 Greene Street in New York; Photolucida at the Pacific Northwest Photo Center in Seattle; One Hour Photo at the Katzen Museum in Washington DC; and the Heart Haiti Benefit at the Aperture Foundation, just to name a few. Future plans including the continuation of her project examining the remains of world's fair sites and ultimately a book of the project.


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  The sun had set and the sky was a strange electric blue; here was just an empty patch by the shores of Lake Michigan, a small pier, a grove of trees shuddering in the wind under a glaringly bright streetlight, and a nondescript park building. It was November, and as the Chicago wind picked up, it was a challenge to keep my fingers warm enough to work my wooden field camera. I set up the equipment on that cold shore, and made a long exposure, encapsulating the icy nothingness that represented the approximate location where the largest pavilions of the Columbian Exposition of 1893—the Agriculture Building and the Manufacture & Liberal Arts Building—had once stood.

 

  My current body of work is an examination of how the sites and structures of world's fairs---conceived and built for a temporary, specific purpose---interact in today's unforeseen environment. Some of the most important architects of the 19th and 20th century were commissioned to construct fair pavilions, dazzling, unusual structures incorporating the most cutting-edge materials and engineering prowess possible at the time. Among them are McKim, Mead, and White, Louis Sullivan, Gustave Eiffel, Le Corbusier, Ando, Mies Van der Rohe, and the landscaping of Frederick Law Olmstead.

 

  Tragically, these extraordinary structures are often immediately demolished, reappropriated for far less grand ambitions, or simply neglected. There is a seeming arbitrariness to what survives. In Philadelphia, two of the four remnants from 1876 are fair toilet buildings. In Paris, there are national icons such as the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Palais, and the Palais de Tokyo. In Flushing Meadows Park of New York, Philip Johnson’s New York State Pavilion of 1964 sits in sad decrepitude, its stocky concrete support columns chipped and covered in ivy.  I became entranced with the fantastical buildings overgrown with weeds, often neglected and ill-fitting among the sleek, modern high-rises looming around them. I use time of year and day---as well as a lush or stark color palette---to further convey the atmosphere of these sometimes-ghostly sites.

 A subject of particular significance as I continue on this work is the differences in land use and attitude to historical preservation between different time periods, continents, and countries. The Eiffel tower of the 1889 Paris exposition, for instance, has been well maintained and has become a major tourist attraction. At time of construction, the tower was the tallest man-made structure in the world, although some critics considered the design of open metal trusses to be vulgar. While the Eiffel tower was originally intended as a temporary fair structure, the height provided invaluable radio communication and thus it was left standing. This bold feat of engineering became the iconic structure of Paris.

    To date, I have photographed 18 fair sites, including Paris, Brussels, Seville, Barcelona, Spokane, New York, New Orleans, San Diego, Philadelphia, Chicago, Buffalo, and Knoxville, and future plans include shoots in Asia, Australia, South America, and others in America and Europe.  It’s a big project because it’s a big subject: World's fairs were unique, spectacular cultural events from which one can glean worldviews that came into and out of vogue, the rise of industrialism, the rise of modernism, architectural trends and progress, and the hopes and dreams of each era. Ultimately I hope to create an archive of every past site, and in my pictures allude to the complicated goals and dreams of these magnificent events.

 


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