The photographs in this exhibition were made during a two year period from 1965, when as a freshly qualified architect, I emigrated to Chicago, following in the wake of Mies van de Rohe who had taken up his post at the Illinois Institute of Technology the year Benny Goodman played his famous concert in New York’s Carnegie Hall. These two years would mark a turning point for me and my unquestioned romance with all things American.
Inspired by Geof Dyer’s confession that he did not even own a camera before writing his unique book on photography, ‘The Ongoing Moment’, I decided to write this book about jazz without being able to play a note. My instrument was a secondhand Nikon F, and befriended by the late Declan Haun, my amateur efforts became more intense. He insisted I should start with a standard 50mm lens, but I would later use a 135mm telephoto, ideal for those ‘across the streets’ shots.
Except where noted they are all printed on Agfa paper and could be classed as vintage prints, that also form the basis of subsequent photomontages. Taking a clue from Ornette Coleman’s ‘Tomorrow is the Question’ album title, the recent collages feature a series of Mitchell cigarette cards ‘The World of Tomorrow’ from 1936 – the Swing Era – and continue with ‘Fragments of Utopia’ as part of the incomplete Modernist project. David Wild