Photos by Joshua Wildman
You know those nightlife images that you see in the pages of New York magazine, Dazed and Confused, and The Fader that make you ask yourself: “Was I at that party? Is that my elbow? Do I know that dude?” It’s most likely that party photographer Joshua Wildman, 36, was there to capture every second of a moment you’d rather forget (but you’re also secretly grateful to see cemented in history).
The Colorado native, who has shot for all of the above magazines, is exhibiting a series of photographs in i have known you too long at Fuse Gallery (opening today), which captures what New York youth is all about: i.e., total madness. Wildman’s photo series navigates beautifially between the grittiness of drunken revelry and the innocence of random carousing. Do yourself the favor of seeing this show because –who knows? — that may be you in the crowd next to the loud blonde. (But please, no Facebook tagging allowed.)
Although Wildman isn’t one to do celeb shoutouts (we could have sworn one of his subjects looks like a young Chloe Sevigny), he does tell us why shooting New York’s party scene never gets tiring, and the one movie that solidified his love affair with New York.
Where you always interested in being a photographer?
I started taking pictures going to punk shows and taking pictures of my friends playing or skateboarding or whatever.
What made you decide to focus on New York nightlife?
I first started taking nightlife pictures because I was out all the time. It wasn’t about who was famous or cool, it was just the people I knew doing what they do… dancing, performing, drinking… etc.
Who are some of your favorite New York photographers?
I love of course, Robert Frank, Gary Winograd, Helen Levitt, Roy DeCarava. They all captured a New York that was alive and was somewhere I wanted to be. I am lucky to know so many great New York photographers now. Among my favorites: Jason Nocitos, whose portraits are amazing, and Tim Barber. Michael Schmelling has brought me into worlds I know nothing about, and Angela Boatwright, who is a great example of how to make personal and commercial work well together.
How have your images changed since you first start shooting?
My pictures have become more focused. Framing is key to me, as much as the moment. I still shoot the same hand-held cameras, using film.
What is it about New York that you love so much?
I love New York because it is always changing but somehow the same. I almost certainly get excited about something even if I am just walking to the deli. There is so much going on here that if you can’t find something to do at all times of the day or night, you aren’t trying at all.
How many years have you lived in New York City, and what made you move out here?
I have lived here for around 18 years with a small break in the 90’s to go to the Art Institute of Chicago. I moved here for school, dropped out and moved back to Colorado for the summer. I saw the movie Aaron Loves Angela on late night TV and it just made me long for New York, so I applied to SVA [School of Visual Arts], got in and moved back.
Can you explain the title of this exhibition?
The shows title is more of a picture from the exhausted life of this photographer. I have been so lucky to witness the things I have. i have known you too long relates to my love affair with New York. Sometimes I am walking down Second Avenue and I will think I have seen it all and then I’ll look up and see a store that’s been there 30 years that I’ve never noticed. I have known you too long but I will never leave you.
Do you think your photographs are pertinent to New York culture?
I have never cared if my pictures were relevant because then I would be worrying all the time, “Is this the iconic one?” “Is this worth shooting?” I want to take pictures of things that hit me in some way and I can’t
be worried about how they will be seen down the line.
What do you think your photographs say about New York and its youth?
I think my pictures show the things I like about New York culture. They’re not about “Oh look who was out last night.” I hope they make people say wow, New York is exciting and lonely and full of love or whatever. I love Brassai’s pictures of French nightlife and I don’t know who any of those people are, I hope in 70 years someone would see one of mine and wish they could go back in time to today.
Open reception at 7pm Saturday, Fuse Gallery, 93 Second Avenue, 212-777-7988, free