Excavation: Recent Photographs by Stanley Greenberg

Piece from Excavation: Recent Photographs by Stanley Greenberg

Excavation: Recent Photographs by Stanley Greenberg

The Bellarmine Museum

April 12 - June 14, 2013

[T]he city did not grow, as the economists taught, by quasi-natural laws, but was a willed artifact, a human construct in which many conscious and unconscious factors played their part ... [t]he principal document and witness to this process [is] the physical fabric of the city.
- Joseph Rykwert

As the eminent architectural historian Joseph Rykwert so eloquently reminds us in his The Seduction of Place: The History and Future of the City (2002), cities are wholly man-made constructs.

There is nothing pre-determined or natural about urban agglomerations: It is we who determine the shape, the essence, and, ultimately, the destinies of our cities. But it is they that bear witness to our existence. It is the cities themselves, then, that hold the key to unlocking the secrets of humanity's forgotten pasts, which in turn affords its inhabitants a more nuanced understanding of their present and, in an ideal world, a more purposeful vision for their future. This fundamental precept lies at the heart of Excavation: Recent Photographs by Stanley Greenberg.

The brainchild of critically acclaimed architectural photographer, Stanley Greenberg (b. 1956), Excavation unveils vestiges of New York City's many incarnations by entering into an intimate dialogue with this commanding city. By mindfully walking every street in Manhattan and documenting his discoveries, Greenberg has created a photographic record of an urban history whose co-author - Manhattan itself - has an indisputable pedigree. The resulting works are as visually compelling as they are intellectually challenging, as historically important as they are critically relevant.

Such imagery is entirely characteristic of Greenberg's work, which explores that which is hidden in plain sight: from metro New York's intricate water systems to urban construction projects frozen in time by his lens, the photographer consistently provides us with new tools for engaging with the built environment. Excavation continues in this rich line of visual and cultural inquiry, revealing for the viewer vestiges of a now-lost Manhattan, which in turns informs how we interact with the city as we know it today. Greenberg's evocative photographs bear witness to his conviction that, "... the city is a huge organism, only some of it visible, and we inhabit it, change it, get changed by it."

Stanley Greenberg has authored four photography books: Invisible New York: The Hidden Infrastructure of the City (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998); Waterworks: A Photographic Journey Through New York's Hidden Water System (Princeton Architectural Press, 2003); Architecture Under Construction (University of Chicago Press, 2010) and Time Machines (Hirmer Verlag, 2011). His honors include a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. Greenberg has exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He is a native of Brooklyn, New York, where he lives and works today.

The Bellarmine Museum of Art is indebted to Stanley Greenberg for his willingness to share this rich and engaging body of work with us. We are equally grateful to our sponsors, Whole Foods Market, Moffly Media, Fidelity Investments, the Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities for making exhibitions like this possible in the first place. Thanks are also due to the Robert Lehman Foundation, Morris Media Group, and to Maritime Motors (Fairfield), whose support helped to underwrite our programming. Last but certainly not least, we thank our parent institution, Fairfield University, for their on-going commitment to the arts.