Joshua Lutz is an artist living and working in New York City. He received his undergraduate degree from Bard College and his masters from Bard College at the International Center of Photography. Joshua is the recipient of The Tierney Fellowship, Best Editorial awards from Photo District News and Communication Arts and also named one of PDN’s top 30 emerging photographers. His work has been featured in publications ranging from The New Yorker and Harper’s to The New York Times Magazine. He is currently on the Faculty at The International Center of Photography.
What is it about the Meadowlands that made you want to spend 10 years photographing the landscape and inhabitants, and do you think these reasons motivate other artists and writers to explore the area?
‘I honestly couldn’t begin to speculate why other artists and writers are drawn to the area. For me I think that I spent so long in the Meadowlands because I had such a hard time trying to resolve my relationship to this place. I first discovered it the same way most people do, driving through on my way to the airport. I think for most people the Meadowlands is just that, a place you pass through on the way to someplace else. For me it started simply from being completely blown away by the landscape. I was fascinated by the wetlands and how all of these amazing structures could exist so close to where I lived in Manhattan. It started out a fairly strict documentary project that adhered to my ideas as to what a document is. The more time I spent in the Meadowlands the more overwhelmed I became with ideas of representation of documentation. About half way through the project I stated to think about how I could move away from the specifics of the document and more towards thinking about how the Meadowlands could serve for a metaphor for other issues that I was struggling with’.
What was your process when working on this project? Were you more likely to go out to the Meadowlands and wander around until something caught your eye or did you have specific places and ideas in mind that you wanted to capture?
‘As you can imagine as I moved away from the document the process changed quite a bit. When I first started I would drive around until I found something that interested me. As I started to get to know the space a bit more I would scout out different places and take notes as to when I wanted to photograph it. I would have all these lists of places to shoot in overcast, places to shoot when the sun was setting or rising and so on. Towards the end of the 10 years my process became more akin to that as a writer where I would be at home thinking about different ideas and sketching out pictures with a pen and paper. I would then try and make create or stage photographs from these different sketches’.
Can you tell us a little about the editing process for the book?
‘The initial edit was pretty easy. You would think that after 10 years and only 50 images in a book it would be this arduous task. There were not thousands of good pictures to choose from. Over the years I was always editing, meaning after the first few years I only had a handful of images I was happy with. With each year a few more got added to the pile of winners. In many ways I knew the book was finished when I had enough work that I was happy with to fill out the story. The real difficulty for me was the order and flow of the book. I wanted it to feel like a photography book not a book of photographs’.
Did you ever spend a week or more in the Meadowlands or did you venture there more as a day trip?
‘I never spent a week in the Meadowlands. With no traffic I live about 10 minutes away so it was hard to justify not sleeping in my own bed’.
Are you working on any other project now that you can talk about?
‘I have been working on a bunch of long-term projects. I am not sure at this point which one will rise to the top to have a more resolved ending’.