Rochester 585/716: A Postcard From America pROJECT
In 2012, the Eastman Kodak Company declared bankruptcy. That same year, a group of ten photographers from Magnum Photos—Jim Goldberg, Bruce Gilden, Susan Meiselas, Martin Parr, Paolo Pellegrin, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Alec Soth, Larry Towell, Alex Webb, and Donovan Wylie, plus Chien-Chi Chang, who documented the process in audio and video—established a temporary base of operations in Rochester, New York, former home to the once-dominant manufacturer of photographic film. Their goal: to create both a documentary archive of that city’s culture and landscape, and a photo-based experience engaging its residents; and to investigate a community of picture-makers comprised not only of Eastman Kodak, but also the Visual Studies Workshop, George Eastman House, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the citizensof Rochester. Over the course of almost three weeks, photographers, students, faculty, and residents worked together to create a visual record of the city and its people at a time of significant transition. Nathan Lyons, founding director of the Visual Studies Workshop, describes the resultas “not only a major documentary project, but a celebration of photography within the city that had for years been a center of imaging technologies.”
Upon arrival in Rochester, Martin Parr gave each photographer the task of assembling one hundred photographs to form the basis of an archive. Rochester 585/716 presents all one thousand images, together with commentary by poets Cornelius Eady and Marie Howe, art historian and photo theorist Laura Wexler, and photographer and educator Nathan Lyons. Five sets of the images were printed as a portfolio, each of which now resides in major private and public collections. Two artist proof sets were also created, one of which will be dispersed via the one thousand copies of this publication. Each individual copy contains a single loose print, selected at random from this additional set.
Postcards from America is an ongoing, collaborative project. Since 2011, a loose group of Magnum photographers—including the eleven featured in this volume— has periodically gathered in locations across America to experiment with the notion of working together to create a new documentary archive of the United States.