The City Beneath the Sky by Marc Yankus
When I was a boy growing up in New York City, my alcoholic stepfather would regularly tell me to “go out and play in traffic.” Needless to say, this didn’t make me feel welcome at home. I would wander the Manhattan streets instead and often walked to the Metropolitan Museum to lose myself in art.
On my way to the museum one day, I was horrified to see wrecking crews knocking down one of my favorite buildings, a beaux-arts apartment building on 79th Street. In the months that followed, a monstrosity of a tower rose in its place. And while that eyesore is still standing today, the lost building – gone now for 40 years – endures in my memory, a fading, elegiacal postcard of a lost time and place.
In my current artwork, I seek to document New York’s iconic, lost and forgotten architecture, from humble small buildings to soaring skyscrapers through a form of surreal architectural photography. Through a unique form of digital collage, I attempt to mute some of the visual noise that can distract viewers from their essential beauty, and in the process help them see their city anew.
This work presents a subtle, surrealistic alteration of the architectural landscape found in New York City, where imagination and documentation meet. Some building portraits are more detailed and others more abstract, but all serve to rebuild and honor the buildings while making a statement about altered perception, reality, and past preservation.
In this series, select historical buildings are portrayed in altered cityscapes and invented spaces that evoke the experience of memory, imagination and dream states playing out in a magical place. Strangely familiar, the buildings are elevated in a fictional composition that appears to tell a story or reflect a past history, but their power resides more in the realm of sensation than explicit narrative.
While I can never hope to capture all of the city’s 1,053,000-odd buildings, I hope to bring dozens of the very finest to life – even if they are among the most forgotten, frayed or overlooked. Through this, more people just might see an alternate universe right in front of them, one that is very beautiful and otherworldly.
Marc Yankus lives and works in New York, New York.
To view more of Marc's work, please visit his website.