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David Rothenberg and the faces of passengers in midair

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David Rothenberg is a photographer based in Queens, New York. He earned an MFA from Bard College and a BFA from Parsons School of Design. In 2017, Rothenberg’s work was included in the exhibition On Freedom at the Aperture Foundation Gallery in New York. Rothenberg is the recipient of a 2018 Queens Art Fund New Works Grant for his project Landing Lights Park. In Fall 2018, ROMAN NVMERALS  published the project as a limited edition photography book. TIME Magazine named Landing Lights Park one of the “Best Photobooks of 2018.” Rothenberg’s work has been published and written about in the The New York Times, Hyperallergic, Die Zeit and featured on The New Yorker’s Instagram account.

About ‘Landing Lights Park’:

‘Landing Lights Park’ focuses on the neighborhood that lies beneath the whining roar and shadows of jetliners landing at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. My photographs explore this extraordinary intrusion within a landscape of the ordinary. I use the camera to find meaning in the visual slippages that I encounter, such as the faces of passengers in midair who pass over my home in Queens. The camera’s ability to suspend motion to reveal hidden forms, one of the earliest properties of fascination for the medium, still holds true for me in illuminating an essentially universal contemporary experience in an unexpected way.

The jetliners that descend over LaGuardia Landing Lights Park and surrounding neighborhood of East Elmhurst (often at 90 second intervals and as low as 150 feet above ground) are an unnerving presence. ‘Landing Lights Park’ ( which was published as a photobook by ROMAN NVMERALS in Fall 2018) depicts this phenomenon as a sequence of disorienting photographic collisions. Photographs of the neighborhood landscape and low-flying airplanes are interspersed with portraits of passengers in midair as they gaze out their windows moments before landing, taken from the ground with a telephoto lens. Using extremely fast shutter speeds and taken from vantage points throughout the neighborhood, these images reverse the gaze from the very specific location of East Elmhurst back toward the viewer by showing passengers in close detail as they study the world from above.

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Time to read
2 min
Words by
Staff
Published on
15 February 2019
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