Buried Treasure

Phoenicia_low_res-16I never considered myself a treasure hunter.

My story starts a few months back when I was watching a episode of Unsolved Mysteries (Robert rack version) late at night.

I sat with wide eyes as I watched a fascinating story about a New York gangster by the name of Dutch Schultz. Schultz, who found himself being charged with tax fraud and racketeering, buried 7 million in cash and bonds in the Catskills in the 30’s. He wanted to avoid the government seizing his assets.  This “keepsake” was to keep him a float during his incarceration.

Instead what ended up happening was that he was acquitted of his crimes, and soon after, he was gunned down in a New Jersey bar. Rumor has it, he was killed before he could retrieve his loot.

For decades, the location and possible recovery of the treasure has created an energy that draws people just outside of the Phoenicia, NY.

I was immediately drawn to the story and decided to investigate the town and surrounding area. Pouring through online forums and books I gathered as much information as I could and set out on my hunt.

These are my findings.

 

Phoenicia_low_res-2Phoenicia, NY. 122 miles north of New York City. The city was a local haunt for the likes of Babe Ruth and Dutch Schultz. The city was calm, almost desolate. With a population of only 309, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

catskills_phoenicia3My first pieces of research led me just off the main road. “Old Route 28” next to Esopus Creek. But I did not find the pine grove I was told to look for. Instead I found houses and lovely views along with the smell of local fudge in the air.

 

Phoenicia_low_res-8This was turning out to be harder than I expected. I was lost and felt I was in the wrong area. I returned to my cabin and turned to the treasure Hunter’s forum I found form 2005. Looking for anything, I found the email of a man named Gary. Gary seemed to know a lot and encouraged contact, but this thread from a decade ago.. So I emailed him and hoped for a response.

Later that night I got a email:

Re: Schultz Treasure 

Jacob,
 
    I don’t know what you read that led you to contact me. The complete story is broken up into a couple of threads on the Treasurenet web site. Basically I posted the results of my hunt where I ultimately located the cache site and posted a pic of the tree carving “1934” probably made by Shultz’ own hand while his bodyguard dug the hole. 1934 was the year Schultz buried the cache and turned himself in to authorities. A map of the treasure location was known to exist, though the bonds in the box had never been cached. So two schools of thought existed; first, it must have been found because there was a map; second, it was never found because the bonds were never cashed. I am from W. Mass and pursued this treasure because, unlike most, it is located here in the northeast. The legend of the treasure contributes to the local economy. No one want to hear what I have to say. During my search I started to create a map to mark off my search of the location of interest. When I found the site I turned my map into a rough location map. Attached is my map in two parts as well as a pic of the carving. This location matches all known info on the map and I’m on to other things.
– Gary

 

Dutch Map2

unnamed


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I now had a new map and continued by journey.

 

Phoenicia_low_res-35Old Boiceville Inn. This was the first structure I needed to find on Garys Map to make sure I was heading in the right direction. I decided to go on back way via the rail road tracks not to being attention to myself.

 

Phoenicia_low_res-32Entrance to the path which will take me to the railroad. I thought once I got on the rail road and cross the Esopus creek, i should be at the pine grove and the site of the treasure..

 

Phoenicia_low_res-33But no one warned me I would run into this. I was literally stopped in my tracks. I was a fool and did not look at the satellite view on google maps! The side access point was down; swept away by very creek that I looked at and depended on for the last few days.

I was close, but not close enough. I felt excitement and disappointment in the same instance. The rain set in and I had to make a choice. I was forced to return to my car. It was time to go back to the city; my rental car was due back in within a few hours.

Although I did not find the hidden treasure, its allure grew bigger. For all I know I was just a few feet away.

Stay tuned.

 

Additional Photographs from Phoenicia and surrounding areas:

 

‘Revisit’ – MFA Thesis show by Marla Hernandez

On the top floor at the ICP-Bard studios lives an experience. As I walk up the stairs to the exhibition from Marla Hernandez, the expectation (seeing how this is a program in advance photographic study) is to see photographs. But Hernandez invites the viewer into a space that immediately throws that normal expectations out the window. Initially confronted with a small a photograph lives inside an envelope, the work starts to play on the viewers physical distance to the work. For this piece demanded I look closer — and soon I found out that much of the work demands a specific interactions.

Familiar objects appear. The material that her photographs are printed on recall for me the softness of fabric. I know how this feels and I want to touch it. But should I touch the work? I decide to step back and fight my urge and give my full attention to the piece. The photograph simulates what I want to feel. The photograph of a cloth mimics its softness but yet its disrupted with high contrast. The work is pushing and pulling my senses in an interesting ways. Is that the value of a photographic work that lives off the wall?

To my right a bright color is glowing. A florescent pink calls me to it, but it rejects me. In neon, the words ‘Fuck You’ appear. I move on. There is a room that is guarded by a black cloth, similar to the photograph. I push through, for my immediate reaction is get the cloth out of my way so I can see! On the other side lives a dark room. There are several pieces glowing, and in the center is box shape. The darkness is still and quiet. As you sit in the space your eyes change and so do the pieces.

I notice there are some stairs in the space leading up to something. My initial reaction was to walk up the stairs to view the work presented at the top. The vertigo I feel when being up high while looking at that piece that is pointed down reminded me of my position in within the space, which was not a normal one. This brings forth the ideas of illusion and power through out the work. What better way to talk about these things then through other senses then your eyes.

I had a chance to sit down and talk with Marla about her work:

Jacob Garcia:  I often times find the show title to be somewhat of a key to an exhibition. Can you talk about what the word Revisit means?

Marla Hernandez: I wanted to pick a title that suited the somewhat elusive nature of my work. Revisit came up as it represented both the immersive nature of installation and the ritualistic aspect of objects coming together. I chose the title also because it’s relative to the aspect of haunting. A haunt typically is a place someone comes back to again and again and likewise, for a ghost, which represents a replaying of a historicized moment. When the installation is together it manifests a presence.

JG: Following up on that question, the word visit tends to be a way for a person to position their body. We visit this place or I am visiting you.. Can you talk about your work in relation to the bodily experience?

MH: I absolutely agree, visit or visiting is a specific action that talks about bodily presence. I call upon the viewer’s experience of art to be one of both touch and sight. The materials and sculptural elements call upon a sensuality that is both tactile and seductive. The level of bodily experience is activated on a spectrum throughout the works. At it’s height of sensuality is within the darkened room in which I remove the better part of your sense of seeing in the exhibition. In this space I think that the darkness helps to create a deeper sense of fluidity of bodies in an ambiguous space. In addition, the darkness maintains a certain level of anonymity between the viewers to maintain intimacy.

JG: How do materials function in your work? The work has photographic elements, but a lot of it blurs the line between photography and sculpture.

MH: At first, the curiosity of working with plastic and metal netting, plexiglass, silk, chain, and found objects had a direct relationship to the lens and the camera, as I’d construct environments with the materials for photographing. The materials began to take on an allegorical meaning in my work, exemplifying other themes of seduction and concealment as they began to stand on their own rather than for their depictive quality in a picture. In this way, the objects have a flexible relationship; they are either at the will of photographic abstraction or have the authority to subvert simply being a photograph. This push and pull of photography and sculpture is demonstrated by my piece Silk Palm, a photograph printed on silk that subverts photographic presentation by being draped on a chain so that it is not wholly visible and irreverent to the rectangle.

JG: I am always curious how one starts to bring the photograph “off” the wall. When did you start making pieces that were more sculptural?

MH: I must first acknowledge, this was a scary moment for me as a photographer and I wanted it so bad. There is always a kind of “filter” or “safety” in presenting objects and sculptures as photographs compared to presenting the things themselves. Once objects are in the room with you, a whole world of relationships opens up between the viewer, the architecture, and history of a space. However, it seemed like an important natural progression for my work because I was equally concerned with the viewer and spatial relationships within my pictures. My first sculptural pieces were these shadow boxes that contained images of staged environments I photographed then placed florescent orange and hot pink plexi glass inside that served the spatial planes of the pictures themselves. They are very special pieces to me and it is evident in the kind of magic and preciousness they contain.

JG: Lets talk about your “Shrouded Sculpture.” It is mentioned in the press release and it seems to be an important part of the show. Can you tell us more about that piece?

MH: There are many layers to this piece, both the relationship of photography and sculpture that I am blurring and point to mysticism and allegory that is part of the installation. Conceptually speaking, I am covering a sculpture with a large silk sewn shroud that contains a collage of chains I photographed. In this particular situation, I am talking about the mutability and relationships of the materials; a pliable fabric that conforms to the shape of the sculpture while still concealing what exactly is underneath with image. The “sculpture” itself has a direct relationship to size of a body. That much is evident but, what I am concealing, or restraining, or protecting is never revealed.

JG:  You speak about demonstrating power and seduction with your work — specifically through the materials you use. I have two questions concerning this:

What is your fascination with these ideas of power and seduction?

Are your uses of particular materials that suggest these dynamics derived from a historical context or a personal one?

MH: The materials definitely relate to both a historical context and have some personal decisions. Importantly, I think that my ideas of power and seduction are related to confounding understandings of power and that seduction in itself is a form of power. Things like hypnosis and enticement have the same type of draw compared to direct forms of power. So in that way, some of my smallest pieces, like the security envelope, suggest a kind of power that seduces and brings you closer, to have an intimate relationship with the art, unlike the experience of power one may feel when looking at a large scale piece by Richard Serra or Michael Heizer in which I feel more distance is created between the body and the work through it’s sheer scale. And as for the context of materials, historically speaking, vision’s relationship to materials and the body, especially in the context that Michel Foucault wrote about the panopticon in Discipline and Punish or in Jonathan Crary’s Techniques of the Observer in which he described the “tangibility” of vision as an integral part of classical theories of optics in the 17th and 18th century. Drapery became a focal point of painting in its ability to describe a realness in which one might reach out and touch the fabric to reveal the photograph behind it but only to find that it was apart of the painting itself. Aside from the historical aspects of vision and touch, my own aspect of seduction is apparent in the choice of materials I use and sometimes their particular personal relationship to my own body and experiences.

 

envelope

 

Silk Palm                         Cut3

Technology – Day 3

The first point I want to bring up is that the camera is a tool and its advancement heavily relies on the future. One of the many things I love about the camera is that it is never fully developed. Every year something new comes out. A new way of seeing; a new way of looking.

Secondly, I want to bring up the idea that the culture of photography relies just as much on obsolescence as it does the future. Usually what might follow next is the conversation on consumerism. Instead I am more interested in what obsolescence might stand for in relation to photography. I see obsolescence as a subtle form of death.

We buy cameras subconsciously knowing that it will eventually be replaced when it’s “dead.” The very act of photographing is often referred to as a violent one, and thus what comes out of this act (what comes next?) brings to light a kind of death that is inherent in photography by creating an image.

So, what does it mean to disrupt this act and use other forms of imaging?

This is something I had in mind when I did my first experiment on/with technology. A project I did in 2014 that was called The Long Road. This project was an experiment with the removal of the traditional camera. For this project, I went on a 3,500 mile road trip without taking a photograph. Instead, I revisited my journey through Google Maps.

screen-shot-2017-03-01-at-11-52-57-pm

Jacob Garcia, The Long Road, 2014

What I ended up with was a reconstructed landscape that was free of its original connection to the physical apparatus. I instead furthered its connection to the post-material world. A world in which nothing lives means its imagery exemplifies death. Using the google maps as a ready made, I used the autonomous machine to create a unique aura of my trip. Creating this aura though depiction, is in a way, similar to if I was going to actually photograph it. No matter which way I would have created the image, I would have (did) kill it.

I often do these sort of explorations to give light to my process. Without understanding my process, its hard to imagine I would be able to understand what the images mean. I am very much thankful of technology, for it always creates new avenues all the time.

The Role of Real – Day Two

Welcome back!

I hinted on the photographic truth in my last post. I tried to give the reader some time to digest what the truth of the photograph might be. The search for photographic truth is something I have been dealing with over for the last four years. I remember the exact moment when I realized my images could no longer be as “real” as I wanted them to be. And I really did want the images to be considered as some what of a truth. But, I was asking too much of my viewer! Now I realize my job is to explore the notion of truth, rather than align it with history.

1

Jacob Garcia, Untitled, 2012

Yes — I was making straight forward “documentary” images.The images usually involved depictions of people — people in action or the trace of where someone was (objects). The images would be as I (my camera?) found them. For I believe the documentary image is a straight result of the viewers need to have a visual reflection of the world they inhabit. My documentary images sometimes had people asking, “Is this scene real?!”

To depict the “real” is to relieve anxiety, no? — I think so.

But, as I have learned the subjective nature of frame cannot actually capture the “real”. What the images does is take reality and suspend it in time and does not let the moment after (or before) reveal itself. I often refer to Walter Benjamin in order to bring this to light:

“Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.”1

The moment of taking the photograph was the “work of art” and its lacking element is that you can never fully experience the moment I was trying to capture.

So instead, I slowly shifted my practice to embrace documentary aesthetics, rather than its historical use. I now use it as a tool to talk about truth. Two big differences now appear in my current work: the use of the large format camera, and the removal of people. The large format camera now requires me to create a scene (thus think about the images before creation), and the lack of people resolves, for me, the anxiety to create a reflection of the human experience in terms of truth.

NTY_1 (1 of 1).jpg

Jacob Garcia, Not Lone Wolves After All, 2017

Now the focus is on the image and its function within the idea of truth, not if “this or that” actually took place. I am now conscious of my attempt to fool you. It is purposeful and I hope you forgive me, but I want you to question reality when you look at my “near documentary” images.

______________________________________________________

Footnote:

1.Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the age of Mechanical Reproduction,” in Photography in Print, ed Vicki Goldberg et al. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1981), 322.

a Case of the Mondays

Welcome.

Welcome to our blog.

Welcome to the blog takeover(s) by the students.

This is my blog takeover.

My name is Jacob Garcia. I am one of nine representing the radiant class of 2018 here at the International Center for Photography. Throughout the last month I am sure you have met some of my other classmates. Hell, I am hoping some of you are longtime readers, subscribers or perhaps the alternative — spies.

But, if you are new to this place, let me explain. This platform is a way for us to share. We share ideas, thoughts, photographs, exhibitions, artists, drawings, more pictures AND sometimes — assignments. 🙂

So this is my takeover.

This week you are stuck with me and my world. That is to say, my way of thinking. Even though I have my own particular point of view, you and I are very much alike. We both are not aware of how this will go.

I have romanticized this moment for quite sometime. I thought while writing this I would feel like Sarah Jessica Parker from Sex in the City! And to tell you the truth…I do feel that way!…. Alas!

But that moment has now passed. Forgive me, I digress.

I want take this week to investigate interesting ideas that have been emerging in my work over the last six months. This will hopefully serve as a precursor to our SLIDE FEST in May. One thing I want to look at over the next four days is the role of documentary within my work. From there, I will venture into technology and its influence on my process. After, I am hoping to touch on masculinity and the spectacle — new ideas that are starting to surface.

At the end is death. Death has been a lasting motif in my work and I am determined to find out why. So it is fitting that it comes last.

So please — let’s have a toast. Let’s toast to what brought me to this blog. The truth. The truth of the photograph.

For tonight It holds truth. But tomorrow, we will break it down.

 

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-11-06-25-pm

Self Portrait, 2006, Polaroid 

Photography and Contemporary Experience

I recently visited the Portland Art Museums exhibition Photography and Contemporary Experience. I was really looking forward to a unified idea of how we experience photography. To my amazement, the exhibition was broken up in several different ways to look at contemporary photographs. How could I forget the beautiful thing about the photographic medium has so it many different uses!

Even the exhibition’s opening text talks about the fluidity of the medium; “Images move fluidity from the gallery wall to computer monitor, we are transmitted via smartphones, and are manipulated by hand as well as software. Photographers actively embrace new approaches when creating and disseminating their work.”

Immediately I understood something I had felt that I had yet to put into words; admitting how in flux photography is and perhaps, that is has been for some time. Some of the forms the Portland Art Museum choose to represent were “The photograph in the Information Age,” “The photograph as Performance,” “The photograph and War,” “The photograph as Object” and “The socially charged photograph.”

Displayed here are works from artists like Richard Mosse. Mosse takes documentary photography to another level with his images of the Congo shot on infrared film. Using beauty to talk about the issues of war, I am transcended into an uncanny space.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-3-35-57-pm

Richard Mosse “Nineteenth Century Man,” 2011

 

Other great work on display was a Piece from Carie Mae Weems. Weems images have impressed me over last year and its been exciting to see her work across the country. In the exhibition, Weems showed and image from “Slow Fade to Black” from 2010. Weems rekindled interest in path-setting African-American entertainers who have vanished from our collective imagination. Her play on memory and perform in combination of important issues is something to not be taken likely. Weems says about the work “They are disappearing, dissolving before our eyes.”

 

ef

Carie Mae Weems, Image from “Slow Fade to Black,” 2010

Especially exciting – An ICP alumni, Teresa Christensen. Ive gotten the chance to study under Teresa in my ungrad, and in-fact is a big reason why I came to the ICP-bard program. Teresa showed several pieces under “the photograph as object.” Her pieces showed the fragility of the photographic truth by manipulating the physical print in hopes the viewer can understand the camera made image is not in fact a mirror of the real world.

 

img_2357

Teresa Christiansen “Shadowed Disconnection,” 2016

I think this is what interests me most, the investigation of the photographic truth. I would go as far as to say the other topics subtly explore this as well. Almost done with my first semester at ICP, I’m frequently pushing my comfort zone through physical inventions with the image. I am relentlessly exploring and trying to answer my own questions.

Overall I think the Portland Museum had a great view on the photographic experience is right now. And what I love is the Museum did not try to pin down what is to become of the medium. It seems to be that contemporary photography mirrors our everyday reality. Specially questioning the truth of the everyday.

Observations of Form

 

taroGerda Taro “Truck on Fire, Brunete, Spain.” 1937

Discussing the work of Gerda Taro is a tricky one. Taro had a very short and under represented career. Most of her images were taken along side the great Robert Capa – who is partially to blame for her being ill-represented. Getting a chance to see her prints in person, I was immediately attracted to this image titled “Truck on fire, Brunete, Spain.”

I find an attraction to this image in its flawed form. This image was made towards the end of her short career.  I also want to note this was one of the few images we saw without people in it. The point of view is odd in my opinion but thats what makes it interesting. Its Depiction and non depiction of death draws me in, so does the motion of flames. Its feeling has a different quality then her other images. These are a few reasons why I can start recalling it to other works reminiscent of its aura and content.

 

1

Sam Shere “Hindenburg Disaster” 1937

I immediately recalled the image of the Hindenburg going down. Its form (although a different vehicle) is very similar to the image of Taro’s. We can see the blimp is on its way to destruction, just like the truck. The image is dark like Taros – due to the exposure of the fire. This disaster was heavily filmed and distributed in the media, much like Taro’s images were.

0503-lcartier-01-henri-cartier-bresson-hyeres

Henri Cartier – Bresson “FRANCE. The Var department. Hyères. 1932.”

A staple of photojournalism with a twist – Henri Cartier-Bresson’s images have become references for many photographers of the years. My correlation from Bresson’s Image to Taros is a stylistic one. Both images have leading lines that direct the view towards the main part of frame. What I mean by that, is the frames “action.” both images have movement that is captured. Wether the movement in both images are accidental or not, it reveals to us the beautiful limitations of the photograph and how we can use it.

3

Man Ray “L’Inquietude(Disquiet)” 1920

Another but more abstracted reference to Taros fire image for me is Man Rays “disquiet” composition. pushing the experimentation of the photograph, Man Ray created motion that evokes a similar feeling I get from the Taro image. Its stillness / hyper motion makes me feel uncomfortable much as Taros images of destruction do. The form is similar to the form of the fire on the truck. I imagine the flames moving just as fast as whatever is going on in Man Rays composition.

4

Jackson Pollock. “The Flame”  1934 . Oil on Canvas

Expression is one way to pin down the feeling I got from the Taro image. Jackson Pollock is an icon of Expressionism. This particular piece isolates the major part of why I like that taro image so much – the flame. A direct reference of fire is apparent between the two pieces, but looking at a representation of fire in color further pushes the uncanny feeling I get from the Taro image. The movement in the paint from the Pollock reminds me of the movement of the flame in the taro image. These two pieces work on multiple levels of content, form and feeling.

5

Pablo Picasso “Guernica” 1937, oil on canvas

Picasso’s painting of the Spanish civil war has a direct relation Taro image – by both are depiction war. This particular Taro image of the truck on fire is subtle in its use, but Picasso shows use the harsh realities with his painting.

7

Robert Capa “US troops assault Omaha Beach during the D-Day landings” 1944

Taros semi-partner in crime. Capa’s famous images of D-day show a very similar style to Taros image. Although they are not all the same, this image in particular has similarities of form to the Taro image. Aside from the fact they both are depiction of war, they both have motion. What it means to be shooting a war “on the go” is one thing. But its another thing for motion to give us a sense of how chaotic war (death) and destruction can be. Both images present themselves to me in this way – chaotic.

8

Jackson Pollock “War” 1947

I want to revisit a later Pollock for a moment. Its fun to note that this is the only drawing Pollock every titled. In this composition, the monstrous destruction of war is conveyed both by the fierceness of the graphic execution. The drawing has tons of linear motions. These lines of motion have a strong reference for me to the flames that Taro Captured. This Pollock may be more graphic than the Taro image, but both show the horrors of destruction.

9

Robert Rauschenberg “Kip Up” 1964

I selected this piece for its subtle ideas of movement and blackness that I feel relates to the Taro image. I like how the blacks engulf the imagery. I could say the same for the Taro image. The blackness of space is uncanny in both images. The brush strokes are very reminiscent of the flames in the Taro image as well.

6

Andy Warhol “Red Car Crash” from Death and Disaster series. 1963

This Warhol piece is the extreme of what I think the taro image does. Both images show a car, but only image shows the actual depiction of death. Both have a relation to death however. Both have a destruction of a car. But what I am most interested in is how in both images, the black direct your attention the highlights. In the highlights we get the depiction of disaster.

10

Thomas Ruff “Nude Obe06” 2001

This Thomas Ruff image is similar in its motion to the Taro image but pushes it to the extreme. I like the reference of motion to the flame, but what I am most interested in is the fetishization of both sex and war (maybe even death). As viewer I am strangely attracted to images of war – I would say the same for most people. I am also attracted to images of sex. What I find interesting in the Thomas Ruff removes a lot of detail and replaces it with motion. This holds me and keeps me looking.This is very similar to why I am attracted to the Taro Image.

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-8-46-05-am

Jacob Garcia “Untitled” from the Water Reduction Series. 2016

I have always had an attraction to death, especially what happens after death or imagery that alludes to death and destruction. Using the fire as a starting point I created a composition of fire and added movement gestures. Layering of the images alludes to destruction. The image on top has inked removed by soaking it in water than removed with a tool. For me, this starts to suggest who easy it is to dismantle the image much as war can dismantle a country.