Lilyan Aloma – The images in this body of work reflect my ongoing fascination with urban environments and the impact that commerce has on them. It is my attempt to resolve the visual tension created by the over-development of the city that I have lived in and loved most of my life.
For years it has been an acceptable practice in Manhattan to post bills on new construction sites, providing accessible, inexpensive advertising. At the beginning of the millennium, as construction sites surged, and the visual horizon swelled with new buildings the custom of posting bills found fertile ground for sending us their messages of what we should buy, participate in, or think. At each construction site, laden with multiple layers of ads, my camera revealed a peeling away, an erosion, a deconstruction, which aside from its physical evidence had a symbolic import as well. Hidden between the layers of aging advertisements there emerged an impression of urban life and its values.
As a street photographer, I roam the streets and often find myself standing still on a once familiar street, unable to remember what building had been on the corner prior to new construction, my frame of reference being swept away at warped speed. In much the same way that an archeologist derives insight into human history from the excavation of ancient remains, I began to uncover photographic clues. And from this experience I not only found an opportunity to learn from my visual investigation, but discovered a fresh canvas, an occasion to re-invent the city. As with all my work, these images are products of discovery, these compositions the result of pure camerawork, from which I have manifested a different view of commerce’s remains.
Unfortunately, since the inception of this work in 2003, the laws of New York City have placed restrictions on the posting of bills at new construction sites. In the absence of this practice, these sites are now clean and uniform, their wooden partitions are painted solid blue or green with the words “Post No Bills, Violators Will Be Prosecuted ”prominently displayed. While the life of this body of work was cut short, these images gain additional meaning within their historical reference to a time when they reflected the visual plan of urban living in New York City. As a native New Yorker, while I have learned to embrace the constant evolution of Manhattan’s physical space, my acceptance is tinged with a bit of sadness as this city’s color and vibrancy has fallen prey to gentrification and its penchant for sameness.
About Lilyan Aloma
I began exploring photography in the 80’s. My passion for black and white imagery led to the creation of a studio and darkroom in my living space, which became my school for independent learning. My earliest interest was portraiture, with an in-depth examination of women and children. From this focus grew, Telling Tales, a mythology of the feminine, and Intimacies of Childhood, an ongoing visual account of children’s relationships within the school environment. This was the springboard for Childlife Photography, and to commercial assignments with an emphasis on portraiture and children.
In the years that followed, my interest in children expanded to include teaching photography to students ages 10 through 18. Under the aegis of Young Audiences, New York, my work found favor in both private and public education as well as a meaningful role in Special Education.
As a photographic artist, I continued to evolve in both my interests and my methodology. My weekends in Sullivan County, New York, presented the opportunities to explore the rural landscape and to expand my photographic interest to include infrared photography, hand coloring, and color photography. Regardless of the camera format, or whether the image is in color, black and white, digital or analog, my guiding principals remain, a deep awareness and understanding of light, composition and the capacity of discovery to empower imagery.
At the heart of my photographic work over the past fifteen years has been my fascination with Manhattan’s cityscape, and the constant evolution of commerce within its space. Between 2003 and 2009 I had 3 solo exhibitions at OK Harris Works of Art, entitled, Mecca or Madness, Billscapes, and Deconstruction. My cityscapes have received recognition through national and international juried competition, and through public and private acquisition. In 2010, I was honored by the Aaron Siskind Foundation with an IPF Fellowship for my body of work, entitled, Billscapes.
Of recent, I have returned to my roots, experimenting with film and toy cameras, Holga and Diana. Within their simplicity, I have found great freedom to allow the spontaneity of discovery, and a trust in my own intuitive vision to direct and inspire my images. [Official Website]