N.Y. Photo Curator: Global Photography Awards- 'Where Photography & Philanthropy Meet' FIRST PLACE: ELLEN FRIEDLANDER 'Union Station' (Click on image for larger view)
UNION STATION by Ellen Friedlander
(Click on image for larger view)

Review by curator Adam Finkelston:
"Ellen Friedlander’s image, Union Station, speaks to the themes of connection and disconnection all in the same image. The space is divided into three sections, showing figures on a busy street, at the end of an alleyway, and inhabiting a large interior space.

Figures are separated by walls, alleyways and doorways. They go their own ways, oblivious to one another yet still connected in various ways. One appears to be checking a phone message. He is part of a group of people wearing costumes perhaps on their way to a Comicon or similar event. A tunnel occupies the center of the composition, forcing our vision deep into the image. The space throughout the image forces our vision in and out, forward and backward. Other figures walk into a lobby area, perhaps of a hotel or shopping mall? All seem to be going somewhere with a sense of purpose. Their thoughts and cares are wrapped up in themselves even as they navigate public spaces. The figures show how we can be distanced from each other while occupying the same physical spaces. All the while, the camera’s eye – our eye – follows them. But are we voyeurs or participants, or both? Are we among them or do we watch in third person?

Though made before the virus outbreak, the image can be interpreted as a commentary on the connections between public and private spaces, individual and collective goals, and the deep need for connectivity to larger communities. Friedlander’s image, for me, distills the pace of life, the combination of ambivalence and reliance between people, and the physicality of private vs. public, inside vs. outside. One thing I like about the image is that the artist gives us an objective look at how people interact. It is up to us to decide if the image is hopeful or pessimistic, if we are one of them or not. In that sense, the image is also a window into our own world view."

Adam Finkelston asks Ellen Friedlander, "Why did you feel this image related to the theme of Connections?"

Ellen Friedlander says, "To be perfectly honest, I struggled with the theme and searched my catalog for a couple of weeks before settling on submitting my Extended Frame photograph “Union Station.” My intention in choosing this photograph was to push and challenge the idea of what it means to connect. This photograph captured people completely absorbed in their own worlds within a public space, connected to the importance of the moment and oblivious to anyone around them. In that way, I felt they were all connected."
Finkelston asks, "What is your own experience with feelings of connectivity and/or disconnection? What kinds of things make you feel connected or grounded?"

Friedlander says, "When I made this photograph, I was living in Orange County and driving into Los Angeles weekly to meet street photographers through the Los Angeles Center of Photography led by Julia Dean. I have moved 14 times and twice internationally and I felt very much alone and isolated where I lived and I think this emotional state of being helped me see people objectively going about their daily lives oblivious to the people or things around them.
Making photographs helps me to feel connected and grounded to a city and feel that I belong. When I created this Extended Frame photograph of Union Station, there was a flow. The man in the superhero costume, the young father holding his baby and the rushing commuters were all lost in their own worlds and putting them together connected them to each other and this seemed to speak to me and tell a bigger story."
Finkelston asks, "Do you read your own image differently now after the coronavirus pandemic or do you resist allowing that to color your point of view?"

Friedlander says, "As I contemplate answering this question, it is the 4th week of a state mandated order to Shelter in Place here in Los Angeles. Since the onset of the Pandemic I have been compelled to make photographs almost every day of the changing landscape in my home, neighborhood and on the streets in LA. I notice that I am more acutely aware of seeing the nuances of color, light and the absence of what I took for granted: people on the street.  However, I do not transfer the pandemic experience onto previously made work because I honor the past as it resonated at that time and I will honor the future with a fresh eye when the virus is contained."

More about Ellen Friedlander:

Friedlander says, "As a fine art and documentary photographer, I enjoy challenging myself to see different ways of interpreting life on the street. I look for singular moments that can be combined to convey the complexity of everyday life. The resulting photographs in Extended Frame reveal unexpected connections, challenging our idea of what is real and reflecting on the unpredictable, idiosyncratic, and inscrutable nature of the human experience."

Ellen Friedlander is a fine art and documentary photographer who uses the ideas of memory, displacement, and photographic truths to make the unseen visible. 

Friedlander has exhibited her work internationally, including venues such as the United Jewish Congregation in Hong Kong, Saint Xavier University in Chicago, and various galleries in Los Angeles and Crakow, Poland.

She has been featured in Lenscratch, The Hand Magazine, and The Candid Frame, Episode #499.

Most recently, her work was included in the Winter 2019 Focus Photo LA Top 20.  Friedlander received her BFA from Ithaca College and a MA from the University of Florida in Gainsville, Florida. Friedlander spent fifteen years in Hong Kong before moving to California. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles.
Instagram: @emfphoto59