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norahjones
bags
911
climber
thorn
ciaboss
ring
beads
Beads
Emily Kwong
Bridge opening
Lat. 40°44’30.14”N, Long. 73°52’40.28”W: Google Earth
The Overpass of Long Island Railroad, 88th Street near 43rd Avenue, Elmhurst, Queens, New York, 2008
After school on June 26, 2006, Emily Kwong, a fifth-grader of PS89 Elmhurst, went through the bridge opening and lost three plastic beads from her wrist band. During dinnertime, Emily found out the family would be moving to the West Coast in a month. The next day, when immersing herself in bidding farewell to her friends, Emily forgot to search for her beads even though she passed through the opening twice. The summer vacation started on June 28.
On the first day of the next academic year, my daughter, one of Emily Kwong’s friends, mentioned the lost beads when I walked her to school. We paused at the opening for a while.
Dexter Evanson reshipped a tennis cap in the right color with a ring included on Octo-ber 18, 2007, and emailed a notice to a Keene, one of his eBay custom-ers, with the note that he found the ring in Keene’s return package when he opened it. Keene responded four days later to say thanks and that the ring could belong to anyone but him/her. Mr. Evan-son soon replied that neither did he think the ring belonged to any-body he knew since he had never had a helper and he opened and sealed every package with his own hands; “thank you, though truly no need to send it back”. Keene asked in the next mail that whether Mr. Evan-son knew of an H.L. as the let-ters engraved on the ring were pos-sibly initials for a name. Evanson didn’t.
73 Sealey Avenue, Hempstead, Nassau, New York, 2008
Ring
Dexter Evanson
Keene
H.L.
Return package
Lat. 40°42’55.68”N, Long. 73°37’56.29”W: Google Earth
George J. Tenet served as the Deputy Director and the Director of the CIA from June 1995 to July 2004. He was born on January 5, 1953. It is likely that Tony Brandon’s memory of the date that had three 7’s is related to another event.
Tony Brandon scraped his left knee on July 7, 1967, in a semi-serious fight with his classmate George Tenet, later a CIA director, on the side-walk near the eatery that the Tenet’s used to own (“Scobee”, or the former “20th Century”). He remembers how badly it hurt and how George worried about his new shorts being torn, which were a gift for his birthday that day.
Little Neck Parkway at Northern Boulevard, Little Neck, Queens, New York, 2008
CIA boss
Tony Brandon
George Tenet
Fight
Scobee
777
Lat. 40°46’13.90”N, Long. 73°44’9.04”W: Google Earth
Somewhere between the fence boards on the left, there used to be a tiny but sharp thorn, which jutted out towards the sidewalk. When she walked her niece home from PS94 on an afternoon of October 1992, Yvonne Rawson, a 37-year-old homemaker, was plunged onto the fence after a stumble, leaving a cut beneath the scars of vaccination on her right arm. Getting the wound sutured precluded Ms. Rawson’s attendance at the fourth meeting - later known as the last meeting - of the Long Island Historical Images Group, which has kept the remaining fliers of the group in the Rawson’s basement ever since.
Van Nostrand Court Community Garden (NYRP), Pembroke Avenue near 254th Street, Little Neck, Queens, New York, 2008
Thorn
Yvonne Rawson
Surgery
Last meeting
Flier
Lat. 40°46’14.90”N, Long. 73°44’2.47”W: Google Earth
A Warren talked in a New Jersey pub in the spring of 2008 about his time of college in the late 90's. He used to take the subway to school via the elevated Queens Plaza station every day.
"I run among the steel frames, on the roofs sometimes, without missing steps or stumble. I dreamed the dream... frequently. I got used to it. It always woke me up in the morning, except once when I dreamed that I was dreaming the dream, getting up, taking a shower... I wasn't! It doesn't sound that crazy if you dreamed you're dreaming, does it? ... I dreamed it again once or twice this year, and that's kind of wired."
Queens Plaza, Long Island City, Queens, New York, 2008
Climber
Warren
Dream
Time of college
Lat. 40°45’0.72”N, Long. 73°56’23.32”W: Google Earth
A Samsung replaced the Philips when the check from the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 was about to come. Mr. Fergus said he did not think Reflecting Absence, the design of the World Trade Center Memorial, was “as good as expected”.
Stuart Fergus finally took a day off on September 11, 2001. He read Tom Wolfe’s book From Bauhaus to Our House in bed the whole day starting at 9:00 a.m., in between which he fixed himself something to eat and fell asleep twice. It was not until 4:15 p.m., when he called his office, that he was told of the attack. Leaping to his feet and ignoring the clash with the screen, Fergus stopped at the old Sony Trinitron, which had not been working for the past two days. Later he replaced the Sony with a Phillips.
3 Conklin Avenue, Canarsie, Brooklyn, New York, 2008
9/11
Stuart Fergus
From Bauhaus to Our House
TV set
Lat. 40°38’2*.**N, Long. 73°54’2*.**W: Google Earth
This anonymous verse must be talking about the launch of Anya Hindmarch’s I’m Not a Plastic Bag bags in the Whole Food stores on July 18, 2007, the same day torrential rain hit the city in the morning, and the steam pipe in Midtown Manhattan ruptured in a thunderous explosion at the evening rush of that day.
We howled with laughter while we waited, the big rain causing flooding.//Three of us got nine Anya’s bags, our payoff for not sleeping.//A block away from my office there was something exploding.//So I got off early, with my Anya’s bags, payoff for not sleeping.//I remembered the howling, but, why were we laughing?//Anyway, each of us got three Anya’s bags, payoff for our not sleeping.
Whole Food, Columbus Circle, Midtown Manhattan, New York, 2009
Bag
Anya Hindmarch
Not sleeping
Hard rain
Explosion
Lat. 40°46’3.94”N, Long. 73°58’55.00”W: Google Earth
Dario Nardella has been watching the Grammy’s every year since 2003.
Dario Nardella, a 46-year-old sanitation worker, insists that Norah Jones sat on the long couch on February 20, 2003, just a few days before she received eight Grammy Awards. Nardella has his reasons when arguing with his coworkers: 1, he can recall what he ate for his brunch and whom he chatted with afterwards on that day; 2, he even talked with Miss Jones when she previously walked by down to the lawn, telling her no black ducks yet in the mere; 3, three days later, he watched the Grammys for the first time and learned the girl’s name. Surely he wouldn’t forget a face in just three days.
Alley Pond Park, Douglaston, Queens, New York, 2008
Norah Jones
Dario Nardella
Grammys
Alley Pond Park
Long couch
Black ducks
Lat. 40°45’12.55”N, Long. 73°44’32.28”W: Google Earth

Eight Sets from On Their Sites

a photo book, an ongoing project began in 2007, approaching to its 25-set goal

Artist Statement

I believe that some seemingly inconsequential personal memories stir people more frequently than significant historical events do. I also believe that most people’s lives appear completely uneventful to others. At the end of 2006, after reading for the second time Joel Sternfeld’s On This Site, a book juxtaposing landscape photographs with brief texts about a series of tragic events in American collective memory, I decided to make a book for another type of memories. I started photographing the sites where people’s private memories were attached, recording memories that might be meaningful only to their owners.

This ongoing project has given me a chance to revisit this experience. One unconsciously seeks an awareness of being anchored. By attaching memories to places or objects where he/she settles or tarries, one builds the relationship of mutual recognition and confirmation with the world. An intersection, mailbox or tiny thorn therefore becomes his/her vessel of private memory or monument of personal history. I was amazed by some details when recording for this growing collection and was finally convinced that they had been or would be the irrefutable evidence of one’s life in his/her memory.

To simulate the look of uneventful life, I waited for sunny days to photograph on the sites where various intimate memories were interspersed, hoping to avoid painting the images with the likely mawkish photographic expressions of a know-it-all. One result is that the sundrenched images offer a world of lucid dreams. However, I can not tell to whom the dreams belong.

Zheng Yaohua
March 15, 2008

Artist Notes

Sternfeld’s book revealed a certain way of reading photos. Viewers not only fill emotions into a photo that they’re viewing, they also fill images into it when they believe or guess that there were something visually existed.

This is actually one of the ways that humans view the world. Some photographs were taken by this way: photographing what one was seeing while focusing on what had visually disappeared.

I don’t think the strategy of entrusting viewers with the task of drawing a final image only applies to literature exclusively. Photography shares this strategy. Sternfeld’s works did, and I’m following his footsteps in this project.

“Are those real stories or fictions?” I’d like to ask back instead of answering, “Would you ask Sternfeld the same question about his On This Site?” The reciprocal questioning is a component of the project.

Dates! It seems like a sin in the Western Cultures if you forget certain dates, birthdays, first date, wedding anniversary. People fully dress up events with historic attire to make them important. The time stamps are the bow ties.

I’d like to clarify that in this project, most of the dates came from my research on the internet, not from exact memories of the protagonists. However, I have always had doubts about the necessity of my perfectionism.

I love Ci, Sanqu, haiku and those narrative songs accompanied on a guitar. I like Ernest Hemingway, but not because of his taciturn heroes; I also like Heinrich Böll and his nagging group portraits. I like William Eggleston and Jeff Wall not because the color of the former and the flying papers or talking dead soldiers of the latter.

I am fascinated by those simple, clear and direct ways of expression as well as their results.

I love to see that things keep their basic appearances, nothing is protruded and nothing is carelessly blurred as background. Yes, something like scenes and lives in the early afternoon sun.

A large format camera helps to make simple and clear images. That is why I shifted to a wooden 4” x 5”. On a well tilted ground glass I see mysteries and undercurrents.

Photograph corresponding figures? Every now and then, I think it is in the trend. But I worry about dead ringers for figures which photography has already created. I really worry they would die for not being nourished with viewers’ imagination.

Zheng Yaohua
October, 4-25, 2009

Previews:

Shi Hantao

Tim Connor

Sun Yunfan

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