"Human Observations – Grand Central Station, Continued" Photography Exhibition by Maria Antonietta Mameli

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"Human Observations – Grand Central Station, Continued" Photography Exhibition by Maria Antonietta Mameli
Curated by: Renato Miracco

1161 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027
October 29th, 2014 - November 25th, 2014
Opening: October 29th, 2014 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Columbia University
modern, traditional, digital, photography, installation, conceptual


Photographer Maria Antonietta Mameli’s new series, Grand Central Station, Continued is inspired by the recent 100th anniversary of Grand Central Terminal. The artist had already completed a photographic series set in Grand Central in 2008, but news in 2012 of the impending centennial celebrations galvanized her into  a second foray of  “capturing on camera the very busy New Yorkers and tourists, who every day have the good fortune to cross this amazing space full of light and energy.”


For years Mameli’s work has focused on New Yorkers in motion. Her figures, generally seen from a distance, have often been shown as black silhouettes on a flat, white ground from which natural surroundings have been digitally removed.  In Grand Central Station, Continued, Mameli’s tiny figures are lit as if by a centrally placed light source, illuminating some features of her subjects and obscuring others. The surrounding inky darkness suggests the vast stretches of moody commuter tunnels and passageways emanating through and beyond Grand Central. “One of the artist’s hallmarks” writes curator Renato Miracco “is her ability to give voice to silence, to barely lit faces, to emptiness and our urban surroundings.”  The photographs evoke the experience of watching a theatrical performance—or of the equally theatrical effects of observing human figures as they move through the darkness and light of a medieval European church. “These photos are not fiction”, writes Miracco, “nor are they romanticized tales.  They are historical documents because the people, the events and emotions they depict are real and tell true stories.”  Miracco suggests that the photos have a neorealist “gaze” that “isn’t passive or mimetic, nor is it neutral.  On the contrary, it is an inclusive and comprehensive gaze which aims at embracing the chosen spot in its fullness and at the same time, creating a world where one can almost sense a parallel reality where daylight is precious and nights are dark and shrouded in mystery.” 


In her artist's statementMameli says “By cutting everything off, I remove every possible element of distraction to focus on reality and surrounding emotional life through a telescope, so that space and time become non-existent. By reducing the subjects to minimal size, I force the viewer to get closer to my work not only physically, but also emotionally. I created my aesthetic space where the facets of the human condition are under the sharp scrutiny of my lenses.”