NYC "New York" autism urban adventure "light painting" "night photography" "art photography" "long exposure photography"

Alleys & Ruins no. 40, Window Fire (1998, New York, NY, 1:45am)

Alleys & Ruins no. 40, Window Fire (1998, New York, NY, 1:45am)

 

During one of the 2nd Friday Gallery walks in my neighborhood, I notice that a teenage boy in my studio is looking and pointing to Window Fire in an unusual way. I walk up to him and his dad and the boy continues to point.
He is standing sideways to the piece hanging on the wall. His arm is erect, index finger pointing. His head is turned and tilted in a strained and awkward position towards the picture, his intense eyes are just fixed on the photograph, and he is frozen in this position.
I stare at him for a while not sure what to make of it. I ask the man if he is his father and he says yes. I say that the image seems to have caught his attention, and he tells me his son has autism but he’s never seen him have such an intense reaction to a work of art before. He likes to take him to art shows because he seems to like it, but this is a first.
The son is still in this intense, frozen position and I ask the boy what he sees in the photo but he ignores me and just keeps staring and pointing. I go to the back of my studio where I have an 8x10 print of Window Fire. I come back and hand him the print, telling him its a gift.
He looks at it, unfreezes and takes it. He stares at it intently and suddenly grabs my hand and kisses it repeatedly, looking at me with a big smile. I’m embarrassed and I look at his father who is beside himself. He is utterly shocked and his mouth is open. Bursting with emotion, he tells me how happy he is that my work has brought out such an extreme, positive emotion in his son.
Whenever I look at Window Fire today I can’t help but wonder if this image in any way is how this autistic boy sees the world.


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My alleys have always had a strong narrative quality – these are intense and dramatic places and somehow most of my shots end up looking like theater sets or movie sets. I imagine the characters who have come and gone; all the late-night encounters that have taken place over the years in this small corner of the world. Each of my alleys is a stage and you are free to create your own tale.

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Xavier Nuez

319 N. Albany Ave, Studio 1N5

Chicago, IL 60640

510-648-6810

© Xavier Nuez, 2020

Music by the brilliant Ketsa. Visit ketsa.uk