Photographer Jason Langer’s body of work is known for its trademark feature of a noir-hlike portrayals of the urban world, most often set in the nocturnal settings of city streets, dimly lit corners and darkened rooms. The method on which he showcases these black and white images give a hint of mystery that shrouds most of his subjects. Haunting portraits and shadowy compositions provides an in depth look at the many cities Langer had traveled. The resulting compilation of photographs he has taken in over 20 years of street photography are now part of a photography book “Twenty Years” published by Radius Books. “For many years, I created and recreated the same photograph. It was, frankly, a compulsion, one rooted in a dissatisfaction with the world as I felt it to be and a deep feeling that there’s something more hiding before us in plain sight. This compulsion sent me exploring, often at night and sometimes at personal risk, along many hundreds of miles of city streets as well as inside the homes of acquaintances and strangers.” Langer explains the idea behind the series.
Gracing the pages of the book are previously unpublished images, surrealist investigation and character studies, as well as Langer’s outstanding photo-documentation of the city of Berlin. Langer’s works has been described as “cinematic and poetic, haunting and romantic”. In her foreword for the book, Julia Dolan writes, “Langer pushes us, through the beauty of well-crafted imagery, to tangle with the tension that builds between life and death, and between an artist and his medium.”
“When I look back on the last two decades of my photography what I see is an experience that mirrors the solitariness of my wanderings. The feeling I was only half conscious of at the time is that the truest, most authentic self is only revealed in isolation. For me, the social self is a mask. The photographs collected here are, simply put, a record of my attempt to penetrate the mask and expose some glimmer of the mystery beneath.” Langer writes to describe the haunting, noir-rish style of his “Twenty Years” photographs.
Viewing the series images takes us along Langer’s more than two decades of journey through the inner linings of Urban America and the romantic cities of Europe. Presenting a contrasting world inhabited by interesting characters, we look further into the lives of random people, whose presence were wonderfully captured by Langer’s camera. From fleeting moments caught in the middle of the streets to exotic nude portraits of both men and women, Langer takes us on a more than a stroll in the deep layers of modern society spanning twenty years. “This compulsion sent me exploring, often at night and sometimes at personal risk, along many hundreds of miles of city streets as well as inside the homes of acquaintances and strangers. Maybe it is that at the end of the day most people are winding down and become more self-reflective. Maybe it is the introspection that comes naturally as the sun goes down.”
The visual language of Langer’s “Twenty Years” offers a plot spanning his collective two decade career capturing fascinating subjects as represented by neon lights, disappearing sunlight, dark shadows, white smokes, detailed facial lines, artistic nudity and then some – all testament of the photographer’s ever-changing creative moods behind the camera. Just by staring at the sample images below, will make one wonder the scope of his photography career with regards to the number of urban cities he has documented through photography. Fortunately, Langer’s book gives us a glimpse of all those unique perspectives.
“During these last 20 years, I was particularly sensitive to the thoughts and feelings associated with this time of day, and with the nighttime, which easily brings mischief and our more primal natures.” Langer adds. Evidently, the mood and look he has created with “Twenty Years” will make us look at this time of the day with a new-found creative insight, which for any photographer is always a good thing to develop.
“American photographer Jason Langer (b. 1967) is best known for his psychological and noirish visions of contemporary urban life. He began making photographs in 1980. He has published two monographs: Secret City and Possession through Nazraeli Press. Jason Langer: Twenty Years represents the frst mid-career anthology of his work. His work has appeared in Harpers, Life, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Time, and Vanity Fair, among others. In addition, Langer’s work can be found in the permanent collections of Rutgers University, Sir Elton John, Sir Mick Jagger, Yale University Art Gallery, and Zimmerli Art Museum. Langer is represented by Michael Shapiro (Westport, Connecticut), Michael Hoppen Gallery (London), Esther Woerdehoff (Paris), Charles A. Hartman, Fine Art (Portland, OR). Langer now lives with his family in Portland, Oregon.”
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