Bruce Silverstein is pleased to present, in collaboration with Espronceda, In My Taxi, a show consisting of over 40 extraordinary photographs spanning four decades by American artist and taxicab driver Ryan Weideman.
This dynamic traveling exhibition provides a unique firsthand view into the ripe period of cultural diversity that characterized New York City’s evolution between the 1980s and the turn of the century; a period when the city experienced enormous economic and societal change. By photographing the spectrum of characters comprising this burgeoning period - from models to poets, drag queens to celebrities, business men to prostitutes, Ryan Weideman skillfully transformed his taxicab into a highly-functional artist studio. The mobile nature of his situation - the fact that he could immerse himself in the action, required the artist’s dexterity and certitude, allowing him to capture the spirit of the times in a fluid style all his own.
Producing photographs that are not only exceptional for their content but also for their technical merits, Weideman often included himself in his images while maintaining his grip on his analog camera, pre-dating the selfie-effect by several decades. At the beginning of his career, the compositions focused on his lively passengers, but by 1986 he was regularly juxtaposing himself with his cohorts, and even passersby beyond the cab window, sometimes all in a single frame.
Working the 5 pm to 5 am night shift, his checkered taxi became the literal vehicle for documenting the rich night-life of New York City for over thirty years, spanning from the roaring 1980s, through the hip-hop and grunge of the 1990s, and well into the new millennium. Within these images, we witness time passing from years to decades - and while the passengers come and go, Weideman remains the one constant, always in the driver’s seat. He is the cameraman and integral co-star in this ongoing revolving theater.
From Martin Scorsese’s critically acclaimed movie Taxi Driver, to the beloved Emmy award-winning sitcom Taxi, life as a New York hack has been a beguiling subject of American pop culture. Fifteen years after Weideman’s journey began, the HBO documentary Taxicab Confessions become a hit television sensation.
Marking the first occasion in over a decade that this work has been shown publicly, this exhibition contains vintage black and white prints developed by the artist in his apartment bathroom-turned-darkroom.
In 1980, Ryan Weideman cruised into New York City to become a street photographer. Having graduated with an MFA from the California College of Arts & Crafts, Weideman already had a style greatly informed by his studies of the great photographers of the 1950s-70s, namely Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, and Lee Friedlander. After a month in city, Weideman’s focus turned to more immediate, real-life concerns – how to earn money to pay his rent. Soon after moving into a tenement building on West 43rd Street (the apartment in which he still lives), a chance encounter with a neighbor who drove a taxi led Weideman to his newfound profession. For the next thirty years Weideman would spend his nights as a licensed taxicab driver immersed in the ever-changing landscape of New York City. His original licenses (year by year) will also be on view in this highly-engaging exhibition.
Ryan Weideman’s work is held in the collections of institutions such as the Brooklyn Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Oakland Museum as well as many prestigious private collections. He has received numerous awards including the Guggenheim Fellowship Grant (1992-1993), New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (1986-1987) and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grant (1984-1985).
The exhibition will be on view from June 1 through June 17 th at Espronceda, Center for Art and Culture in Barcelona, Spain. A reception with the artist will take place on the evening of Thursday, June 1 at 7:30pm.