Monday, September 9, 2013

Michael Bach

Abandoned campsite, Mt. Ida, Troy NY, September 2011

Born in 1960, in Albany NY, Michael Bach now resides in Troy, New York. Between 1981 and 1983, he was enrolled in a Fine Arts Foundation Program with a concentration in Photography at the Junior College of Albany (now, Sage College of Albany.) Upon completion, he was awarded an A.A.S. degree in Fine Arts. From 1983-1985, he was enrolled in Bard College's Undergraduate Photography Program, headed by Stephen Shore. At Bard, he studied with Stephen Shore, Ben Lifson, and Douglas Baz. In 1986, he was accepted into the Yale School of Art Graduate Photography Program. While at Yale, he studied with Tod Papageorge, Richard Benson, Thomas Roma, Ben Lifson, Jo-Ann Walter's, Nancy Hellebrand, Stephen Scheer, and Lynn Whitney. In 1988, he was awarded an M.F.A. in Photography from the Yale School of Art.

He has taught at Union College, Rhode Island College, Sage College of Albany, Sage Summer Art Program for High School Student's, and the Art Kane Photography Workshops.

He has exhibited nationally and his work can be found in several permanent  and private collections, notably the Center For Photography at Woodstock Permanent Collection/ Samuel Dorsky Museum, New Paltz, New York, The Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute, Utica, New York, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, and Yale University Sterling Library, New Haven, Connecticut.

Due to physical and mental health issues, he did not work for fifteen year's. In 2010,  he resumed working after adding the drug Wellbutrin to his daily ingestion of drugs in treating bipolar disorder. It was at this time that he began the photographic project "Displaced." He continues to pursue this project as well as photographing  scenes in Troy New York and nearby cities in New York State, portraiture and self-portraiture, found still life, and family.

View more of Michael's work here 

Abandoned tree fort, Mt. Ida, Troy NY, November 2011

Displaced Statement

There is a palpable sense of sadness and despair felt when walking in the woods and fields of Mt. Ida, as if a dark veil enshrouded the landscape. While stumbling across remnants of failed lives and desperate attempts at domesticity one cannot help to think of those forced to endure such hardship. In 2010, in a collaborative effort to erase the population that had inhabited  Mt. Ida for many years, the city of Troy and a local university (RPI), banished the homeless from the land. The land was needed in order to accommodate a construction project called City Station. The projects aim was to build a series of graduate housing complexes made  specifically for the university graduate student population. Additionally, at street level, businesses would be open to the general public. Presently, three complexes have been built.

In 2010, ground was broken and it was then that I decided to begin the photographic project "Displaced". Working with an 8x10 view camera and black and white film my aim was to make photographs as a memorial to this once Eden-like landscape and as a testament to the people who once called this place home.

In photographing, I was less interested in literally documenting what I came upon and more in the narrative contained in the personal ephemera, belongings, and structures for living. I wanted to avoid personal bias or the overt social and political implications of the subject matter, allowing the spirits of this neglected landscape to shine through. The photographs are intentionally left open-ended. In the end, the viewer, with their own particular history, will have their own personal experience  when viewing the work. My hope is that the viewer  will have a more empathetic understanding of the issues inherent to homelessness. Given the right circumstances, the tables could be turned and one could find themselves in the same unfortunate situation. Each time I return to Mt. Ida, that thought is always with me. The photographs are generated by emotive responses  to the landscape, the people who once inhabited the landscape, and their shared history.

During the time I have been working, construction projects have threatened and overtaken large portions of the land. Eighty percent of what I have photographed no longer exists. This includes the landscape itself, as well as what was left behind by the homeless. I fear that much of the land of Mt. Ida will, slowly but surely, succumb to this conflicting relationship to man and nature.

Looking through the tree's, Mt. Ida, Troy NY, November 2011

Shawl, Mt. Ida, Troy NY, May 2012
A sleeping bag covered in pollen, Mt. Ida, Troy NY, October 2010
Sleeping bag and large broken tree limb, Mt. Ida, Troy NY, October 2010
Two cushions placed in the underbrush, Mt. Ida, Troy NY, October 2010

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