ADAM ELSTEIN A Concrete Atlantis, Revisited
May 29 - July 15, 2017
OPUS Projects is pleased to present Adam Elstein's first solo exhibition at OPUS Project Space,
A Concrete Atlantis, Revisited. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, June 22, 6-8pm.
For his first solo exhibition with Opus Projects, Adam Elstein presents a series of new photographs.
Buffalo NY is home to the largest grouping of urban concrete grain silos anywhere in the world. They are concentrated in South Buffalo's historic First Ward, an area called "Elevator Alley"
I came to Elevator Alley in 2012, drawn the possibility of wandering in an abandoned city of gigantic forms, a kind of modern day Valley of Kings. What I did not know then was that I was not the only architect or photographer to develop a fascination with these monumental, iconic forms.
German modernist architect Erich Mendelsohn had travelled from Berlin to Buffalo to photograph the grain silos of Elevator Alley in 1924, His photographs—images of the very buildings I was to encounter ninety years later—fell into the hands of modernist giants Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, and became a key stimulus to the development of the Modernist movement.
In the words of architectural historian Reyner Banham, Buffalo’s grain silos provided “an available iconography, a language of forms whereby promises could be made, adherence to the modernist credo could be asserted, and the way pointed to some kind of technological utopia". Banham described Elevator Alley as a “Concrete Atlantis”, taking his cue from Plato’s legendary mid-Atlantic sunken kingdom.
Photographs are conceived in the stillness of an infinitesimal moment, but can evoke duration and even the infinite. For me, that is their magic. The notion that I had come upon the monuments of a lost civilization was in my mind as I making this body of work. The figure of Atlantis was doubly potent for me because by the time I encountered them, the Buffalo silos were in state of disuse and decay. My photographs became not only a meditation on “eternal forms” and shiny promise of a modernist technological utopia, but also a concrete marker of time, entropy, and the trajectories of chance and unintended consequence.