In Passing, from her collection of fine art prints, photographer Deborah Julian has taken a common theme and transformed it into art. I’m tempted to say she has made of reality something better.
Passing puts us in an impossible position, standing in the background as a subway train races into an elevated subway platform in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. The vision we see is full of the kind of contrasts that make up what we consider the real world, but which whip by us in such volume and so much haste we miss them.
An elegantly dressed woman, her posture deliberate and perfect, hair swept along with winds of the passing train, waits in a compact frame on a grimy platform.
Where is she going?
The platform is haphazardly set, its components reflecting decades of updates, time passing like the train. A trash can occupies one corner, and a yellow strip separates the setting from a detached world.
The train itself is populated by ghosts.
Urban landscape photography can cover a lot of territory. Going back to the late Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth, Eugene Atget, probably the best known historical urban landscape photographer, made pictures that give us the best record we have of an old city being transformed into a modern place as the industrial age boomed.
Atget made his photographs to sell to painters who would use them as models for art. A century later, Deborah Julian and others have evolved the art form. These urban landscape photographers make art of their photographs by using digital processes instead of paint.
As you can see from Passing, the possibilities for expression are many. From the photograph of an urban landscape, Deborah Julian has created a fantasy and a narrative. Except that with her work, you get to tell the story. What ever you see. Whatever you imagine about the destination of the woman on the platform. It’s yours to join in the creativity.
Deborah Julian’s collection of Fine Art Prints, Pictures of New York, includes Passing and other street photography.