Review: Invisible City by Marnie Gillett, SF Camerawork


SF Camerawork Volume 16 Number 1, Regarding Postmodernism

Invisible City Photographs by Ken Schles
Twelvetrees Press, Pasadena, CA, 1988 $30.00 hardback.

Schles' work is rooted in the life of the city and in the history of urban photography dating back to John Thomson's work in London in the 1860's. It culminates and institutes a photography which is both journalistic and fictional. The book teeters between reportage and fantasy. Schles' incisive photographic style incorporates a range of approaches that echoes works as diverse as that of Jacob Riis, Weegee, Robert Frank, W. Eugene Smith, Nan Goldin and others who have imaged the fragmentation that seems an integral part of city life. It also draws from the world of literature. Indeed, Schles juxtaposes quotations, albeit disconnected, from works by Lewis Mumford, Jorge Luis Borges, Franz Kafka, George Orwell and Jean Baudrillard. The absence of ltalo Calvino is curious. Calvino's book Invisible Cities is as engrossing as Schles' Invisible City, though Schles' compelling images rupture the narrative logic that so characterizes Calvino's text. Invisible City is both haunting and aggressive. It is a montage of gritty and forceful images that encounters the urban experience directly and with poignancy.

Marnie Gillett