THIS IS NEW YORK! is the result of three years work by qi peng to represent the post 9/11 world. This will be the first volume (of many) of the complete artist's books of qi peng similar to those self-published by Dieter Roth back in the 1960's and 1970's...(Thanks to Blurb for making artist's books more available to the public...) Capturing all ranges of emotions from anxiety to happiness, this conceptual essay attempts to examine the wide range of representation from architectural photography to still life to street photography. Virtually a personal encyclopedia of life under the microscope for that total foil/guise of New York City, peng evokes a sense of place both as a displaced New Yorker (living in Salt Lake currently) and as an insider who is familiar with the haunts which range from Greenpoint to Harlem. All types of people are featured as random characters in this stream of consciousness experience like single shot frames grabbing the power of memory like a postmodern Proust with a camera.
After researching the subjects, peng bases the structure of his cinematic narrative as a postmodern journey of a flaneur inspired by Cortazar's novel "Hopscotch" which allows the reader to understand the supposed plot from various angles. Themes and motifs come and disappear only to reappear elsewhere. The direct simplicity of each single shots belies the complex relationship among each frame of the "storyboard."
This photo novel was inspired by a dose of Walter Benjamin's The Arcades Project, Billy Joel's song New York State of Mind, Nas' rap New York State of Mind, a hefty any photo essay by Bruce Davidson and/or Bruce Gilden, Robert Frank's seminal tome The Americans, and definitely anything by Wolfgang Tillmans or Paul Graham. However, it's all peng's voice, offbeat cropping, weird subjects like a jazz improv session with Hank Mobley, and just life in general. THIS IS NEW YORK! is a true love letter, so rambling, for a city which never ceases to exist at its own living organism.