OK- time for another interview, and this time we’ll ask more than one question. Today we’re speaking with Joshua Lutz, whose new monograph Meadowlands is blowing my mind. I’ve actually been following this work for several years; I would check back on Lutz’s site from time to time to see what new images had been added, so I’m very excited to see it completed in book form.
I myself am completely fascinated by the Meadowlands– I had the “what is this place?!” moment when I first took New Jersey Transit about ten years ago, and I think Lutz’s exploration nails it in the most lyrical, wonderful way.
Anyhoo, on to the questions:
How did you get started with the Meadowlands project– are you from New Jersey, or did you just come upon the area and feel fascinated?
I’m not from New Jersey at all. I grew up back and forth between the suburbs of New York during the week and the city on the weekends. For me the space outside of the city was always the suburbs I lived in. When I first saw the Meadowlands I was completely blown away at this vast open space with the Manhattan skyline in the distance. It was this space that existed between spaces, somewhere between urban and suburban all the while made up of swamps, towns and intersecting highways. None of it made any sense to me, still doesn’t.
I love the mix of portraits and landscapes in the project– how did you search these people out?
I didn’t take any portraits for the first 7 years of exploring. I met a lot of people, but never took their picture. I have a bit of tunnel vision when I work so it’s hard for me to switch back and forth between different systems of working. When I finally made the switch it was pretty easy to put together the list of people that I wanted to return to.
What’s the story of this picture… did you just, um, happen upon a corpse?
I did not just happen to pass upon a corpse– with that said, I am going to be a little vague. As fond as I am of documentary photography I think that we have come to a point in the history of photography where we need to think about photographs more in the way we do paintings and less in the traditional sense of a document. For that reason I generally don’t caption or title my work and I try not to say too much about the process of making my work. I like the ideas of possibilities and the more I talk about them the less experiences people can have with looking at them.
How did the book deal happen– and how are you able to balance your fine art and commercial projects? What pays your rent?
I met with Craig Cohen at PowerHouse and three quarters of the way through looking at the work he said, I love it– let’s do it. It was the first meeting I had and I canceled my other meetings that I scheduled for later that month. That was a year ago.
Balancing the fine art and commercial work is something that I am getting better at. I was at a place for so long where I wasn’t working enough or selling enough prints to hire someone yet working too much to not hire someone. A lot has changed this past year. I have a few people that are able to tolerate me on a daily basis and help me manage the balance between fine art and commercial work.
See more work from the project on Lutz’s site.
See some of his commercial work at Redux.
See the work in person in September at ClampArt.
And if you’re in Beacon, NY this Saturday: work from Meadowlands will be shown as part of Fovea’s outdoor summer projection series.
And oh yeah- buy the book!