The latest addition to my library collection: John Schabel: Passengers
John Schabel: Passengers. (2013. Twin Palms Press. 8 x 10 Inches. 73 Duotone Plates. 84 Pages)
I first saw Schabel’s analog prints (an obsessive series of photographs taken between 1994 – 1996) at the 1997 Whitney Biennial, and have long thought about them. I was thrilled to discover that Schabel’s collection has been published in a beautiful book titled Passengers by Twin Palms Press. For this series, Schabel photographed across the runway tarmac using a telephoto lens to capture images of airline passengers awaiting takeoff. The resulting works underscore a liminal moment in travel – the passengers are neither at home nor at their intended destination. The lack of text in the book and the tight framing provided by the airplane windows further decontextualize Schabel’s subjects. The analog process (the framing of the airline windows reminds me of early photographic practices such as the daguerreotype), combined with the impossibility of repeating this project due to today’s airport security restrictions, points in an elegiac way to modes of travel irrevocably altered and to aspects of photographic practice itself.