karen schoellkopf


visible cities

digital c-prints
20 x 30"

i have been working on this project of photographs of light, all taken in transit in various cities throughout the world, either from a subway, train, car, scooter, or plane. i began this project as a different way to approach landscape photography, and was delighted to find the abstract environments I could create, within the eye of the camera.

this project is a shift for me from my usual subject of environmental portraiture, which has been a main focus for the past 15 years. i began taking these pictures in spaces that did not exist, in-between spaces, spaces in transition, cities beneath or above the actual cities. these pictures for me are also a leap into an abstracted emotional terrain, a place to experience that has no defining characteristic of a “city”, but very much a specific emotional landscape.

the man who is traveling and does not yet know the city awaiting him along his route wonders what the palace will be like, the barracks, the mill, the theater, the bazaar. in every city of the empire every building is different and set in a different order: but as soon as the stranger arrives at the unknown city, and his eye penetrates the pine cone of pagodas and garrets and haymows, following the scrawl of canals, gardens, rubbish heaps, he immediately distinguishes which are the princes’ palaces, the high priests’ temples, the tavern, the prison, the slum. this -some say- confirms the hypothesis that each man bears in his mind a city made only of differences, a city without figures and without form, and the individual cities fill it up.
— italo calvino, invisible cities