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Nancy Oliveri is an American artist who was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1958. She was raised in a small Connecticut town where she developed a lifelong passion for cinematography at the local drive-in movie theater where her father worked. Film and photography became an early passion which led her to Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford where she studied conceptual art, filmmaking and photography in the early 1980‘s. She was introduced to experimental film and conceptual art there by some of the most important and influential American artists of the 1980’s, including Jack Goldstein and David Salle.
Her work has been selected for multiple international juried photography shows and art Exhibitions, including the Berlin Foto Biennale in October 2016 where she will be acknowledged as a finalist for the Julia Margaret Cameron Awards. She is currently included in a juried group show WE:AMEricans at Station Independent Projects in Manhattan, NYC, curated by Leah Oates and Ruben Natal-San Miguel.
I set out to capture Coney Island but it captured me. The iconic seaside park has been an inspiration to a long list of great American street photographers since the 1930’s, including Harold Feinstein and his bold compositions, Weegee’s unflinching penetration into the American psyche, Ray Metzker’s high contrast photos under the boardwalk and Gary Winogrand’s almost sculptural captures of figures playing in the surf. The beach and amusement park has at times throughout history been an exclusive resort for the wealthy, the home to burlesque and freak shows including tribal humans on display in the late 1800’s as well as a recreational attraction for every immigrant group coming to the US.
The iconic parachute jump, known as the Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn, was originally built for the 1939 New York World’s Fair, and was later moved to its current site, then part of the Steeplechase Park amusement park. It appears as a cinematic icon in the work of American filmmakers including Woody Allen and Darren Aronofsky.
To quote Harold Feinstein, “Everything has been done, but not by you.” That’s the spirit in which I approach this ongoing Coney Island project. And about once a year, after chasing birds, forgetting a memory card, or being rebuked by suspicious subjects, I get lucky and bring something new and fresh into the world. ‘In Truth We Were at Sea’ is that kind of photograph for me.
The art of seeing, thinking and making pictures is a way to experience and process the world of history, facts, memories and dreams. It is a way to capture thoughts, the real and imagined past and future, a scene from a long forgotten drive-in movie or an unnameable feeling of disgust, love and wonderment using the same photographic language. This series discovers the visual ambiguity while suggesting American cynicism and naïveté, hubris and repressed thoughts, escapism, unconscious fear, visual puns, the language of the unconscious and an expression of American Dreams. The titles are taken from the lyrics of the now classic Procol Harum rock song from 1967, A Whiter Shade of Pale, just one of the soundtracks of American Dreams.