Ahron Weiner on the Verge: Bringing "The Flood" to Brooklyn
If you want to find something unique or unusual, Verge is the place to go. You'll have to sift through a lot of good efforts (as opposed to successful results), but the one piece that blows your mind is worth it. I found it at 20 Jay Street: "The Flood," by Ahron Weiner.
There is nothing conventional about Weiner's photography, except, perhaps, for the fact that he uses a camera. After that, he's truly exploring new territory. "The Flood" is part of a larger effort that tells the stories of the Old Testament through rehabilitated advertising images.
Okay, that's a lot to digest. So, let's step through the concept.
If you ever see a tall (by my standards, at least) man with long blond hair chipping through the advertising posters on Manhattan scaffolds, there's a good chance it's Weiner. These posters are slapped up all over the city, with the new simply covering up the old ... and so on. It's endless. Weiner goes in the opposite direction. He peels away at the layers, looking for a story to emerge. Starting with what strikes him as an interesting advertisement, he pulls to see what lies beneath.
With "The Flood," it all comes together. A photograph of his work on the streets of New York, it consists of several layers of advertisement, pulled away at various points and depths, to tell the story of Noah and the Ark. The blue layers above and below reflect the rains and their ground-covering consequences, with a house – several ad layers below the original surface – seemingly adrift. Where ads were ripped from the scaffolding, the texture left reinforces the tumult and turmoil likely experienced during the flood itself.
What makes Weiner's work unique is the convergence of messaging. On the one hand, you have the Bible, which is intended as a broad and enduring statement (if we stay at a level where matters of belief and authorship are not debated). On the other, you have advertising, which is discrete, narrow and purpose-driven. The former speaks to a way of life, while the latter focuses on a specific action (e.g., BUY THIS NOW). Under Weiner's hand, the layers of ads, picked apart masterfully, take on the life of OId Testament stories, an unlikely medium for tales thousands of years old.
"The Flood" reaches beyond medium, message and style. It shows what happens when a rare intellect is applied to the everyday exhortations to open your wallet, bringing the finite and the infinite together – in DUMBO.
[Photos by Laurie DePrete]