Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Wilkes’

Reflected Light IV

January 30, 2009

I was lucky enough to attend the annual Riverkeeper Art Auction in New York City, this year’s taking place in Frank Gehry’s gorgeous glass IAC building in Chelsea. The event was star studded, with celebrities Richard Gere, Lauren Hutton, Matt Dillon, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (who is on the board of directors), hosting. Debbie Harry, aka Blondie, was the entertainment for the evening and brought back some memories for all of us, as well as some dance moves.

If you’re not familiar, Riverkeeper is “an independent, member-supported environmental organization founded on the premise that citizens themselves must roll up their sleeves to defend our waterways. They were originally founded in 1966 by fisherman and local community, to confront polluters for control of the Hudson River. They use a variety of tools to carry out their mission as environmental watchdog and advocate. These tools include: Enforcement and Litigation, Public Policy and Advocacy, Scientific Research, Smart Growth Initiatives, Citizen Watchdogs, Education and Public Awareness, and Grassroots Organizing. They have successfully investigated and prosecuted hundreds of environmental lawbreakers (including General Electric, ExxonMobil, Con Ed, the City of New York, the MTA, and the NY State Dept. of Transportation), and are credited with leading the battle to defend the Hudson River and New York City’s drinking water supply.”

The auction was very successful, due not just to Riverkeeper’s hard work and perseverance toward the cause, but also because of the amazing art work that was donated. Edward Burtynsky, Katherine Wolkoff, Tierney Gearon, Alexander Calder, David Maisel, William Wegman, and many other fantastic artists donated images, unique commissions, or photographs from their collections. But it’s not over yet, partnered with CharityBuzz, an international auction site with unique lots and experiences, has allowed Riverkeeper to maintain several items past their silent and live auction held the other night, one of which is a “study photography trip” to Santorini Greece for you and a guest with photographer William Abranowicz that includes daily photography lessons and excursions. I don’t know about you, but Santorini is sounding pretty good compared to the freezing temps here in New York. To bid on this exciting trip, visit the Riverkeeper Art Auction online via CharityBuzz by clicking here. The auction closes on February 2nd.

And to learn more about Riverkeeper, both for the Hudson as well as the many partner Riverkeepers they have founded all over the country, visit their website

Here is a quick sneak peak at some of the photographs still up for bidding until February 2nd. You can click on the images to take you directly to the respective auction lot.

Amy's Theorem, Archival Pigment Print by Victor Schrager, 11"x13.5"

Amy's Theorem, Archival Pigment Print by Victor Schrager, 11"x13.5"

TV in the Sand, Archival Pigment Print by Stephen Wilkes, 24"x30"

TV in the Sand, Archival Pigment Print by Stephen Wilkes, 24"x30"


Stephen Wilkes

August 6, 2008


Data Center, Olympic Village, Beijing, China, 2008.

Stephen Wilkes current exhibition at Clamp Art in New York, shows a country experiencing change like no other has ever before it in the history of this world. China. Where the natural landscape meets the ever growing industrial landscape, or even becomes completely swallowed by it, Wilkes has captured both in the series aptly titled The Construction of the Olympic Stadium and other Chinese Public Works. But these aren’t images of vast land scapes resembling alien planets that are completely void of the human. Instead, there is always at least a presence felt. But what’s to be noted, is while these images do incorporate people, they feel completely out of place. And they should. The surroundings depicted are rapidly transforming, so one can only assume the Chinese feel like aliens in their own surroundings. And to go further, some images such as “Destruction Before and After” shown below, literally depict a typical farm house with it’s inhabitants, only to later be seen again as a pile of rubble. The ultimate portrait of transition, change, destruction, and displacement. All elements at work in Wilkes images.

Before and After: Destruction, Jiangxin Island, China, 2007.

Other images, like those of the Three Gorges dam on the Yangtze River, tell a similar story, where the viewer can only imagine the type of displacement– intentional, or accidental? The Three Gorges dam is the world’s largest hydroelectric dam, as well as the largest project of it’s kind since the Great Wall, and the Chinese hope it will provide 10% of China’s energy needs. At one and a half miles wide and more than six hundred feet high, the dam will create a reservoir nearly three hundred seventy-five miles in length, displacing well more than one million people. Some of those displaced, relied on farming and agriculture for their means of income and sometimes survival, which are now drowned under a gigantic reservoir. While the dam will answer to China’s growing needs for energy, is this the right way to go about it? Why is it that people still aren’t catching on to a cradle to cradle way of thinking, living, and acting? Why do we change and evolve into something destructive instead of nurturing? Why can’t we find ways to solve our problems without doing more harm? We can. As Einstein and Edison said, respecitvely, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them,” and “If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” Now is the time.

Here are a few more exemplary examples of these questions I can’t help but ask when viewing Wilkes work. To see more, please visit his website or take a trip to Clamp Art in August to see this brilliant exhibition.

Three Gorges Dam at Yangtze River, Jiu Li Village, Sandouping, Yichang, Hubei, China, 2008.

Steel Cables, Three Gorges Dam, Yangtze River in Sandouping, Yichang, Hubei, China, 2008.

Backside of Three Gorges Dam, Yangtze River in Sandouping, Yichang, Hubei, China, 2008.

Three Gorges Dam Lock, Yangtze River in Sandouping, Yichang, Hubei, China, 2008.