Jade Doskow at Front Room Gallery

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday April 18, 2018

The title ofJade Doskow’s recent work, collected into the book, Lost Utopias, resonates on more than one level, not least of which is the uncommon beauty of her luminous well-observed images. Her photographs of World’s Fair/International Exposition sites, stateside and worldwide, often portray crumbling artifacts of American technological glory, such as the New York State Pavilion at the New York 1964 World’s Fair (celebrating the space race), or Buckminster Fuller’s mammoth geodesic dome for Expo ’67, Montreal (celebrating American creativity).  This week, a selection of these images goes on view at the Front Room Gallery, with an opening reception on Friday, April 20, from 6 to 8 pm. Above: © 2017 Jade Doskow New York 1964 World's Fair, "Peace Through Understanding," Philip Johnson's New York State Pavilion (with fresh paint)

Until the collapse of the Soviet Union, the mid-century American presence on the World Expo circuit was a given, and defined by its proclaimed—and often demonstrated—superiority in every field, from science and technology to art and commerce. Her scope goes well beyond the American presence during the Cold War years, with a special emphasis on Brussels 1958, Paris 1889 and 1937, and Montreal 1967. But the urgent American expression of pride and might, which today can be viewed as almost quaintly anachronistic, is respectfully presented along with an occasional—and well-deserved—dash of irony.

In paging through the book, it’s hard not to linger on Doskow’s images of the World’s Fair 1964 New York State Pavilion, designed by architect Philip Johnson. The building, lauded by critic Ada Louise Huxtable as “a runaway success…seriously and beautifully constructed”, was unlike the architect’s corporate architecture in every possible way. In the book, it appears twice, in photographs that honor its futuristic crumbling beauty. Ed.note: the structure has undergone a much-needed facelift, with a new paint job and repaired terrazzo floor.

The photographer’s unconcealed delight in Fuller’s geodesic dome offers the reader a poetic view of the 20-storey skeleton twice: once on the cover and again, inside. The Seattle Space Needle, one of the city’s most-visited tourist attractions, is seen here from a resident’s point of view, with a pile of ordinary two-story houses in the foreground. And San Antonio’s (that’s right, San Antonio, Texas) 1968 Hemisfair’s claim to posterity is a public fountain fashioned from the expo’s monorail structure. This official World’s Fair site (was funded by a federal slum clearance program, through which 1,600 people were displaced. More than half of Hemisfair Park’s 192 acres is now being redeveloped as a mixed-use park for the local population.

© Jade Doskow, Montreal 1967 World’s Fair, “Man and His World,” Buckminster Fuller’s Geodesic Dome With Solar Experimental House 2012

For the United States of America, participation in World’s Fairs or Expos has become untenable, mainly due to the fact that the State Department no longer funds or administers an enabling design/construction program as it once did. But that’s another story for a future issue of DART. The last outing, with a reclaimable structure promoting agricultural technology by architect James Biber, was Milan 1915. Through lack of support and funding, this wonderful structure and its exhibits cost the architect and designers millions in unpaid fees. So, yes, the glory days are gone and so the book offers a tremendous nod of respect for what it takes to engage in the presentation of concepts that are innately ineffable: A New Humanism (1958); Peace Through Understanding (1964); Energy Turns the World (1982); Fresh Water as a Source of Life (1984), to name a few.

Jade Doskow, Lost Utopias. Opening reception 7-9 pm at Front Room Gallery, 48 Hester Street, NY, NY Info 4LSphoto

The exhibition can be seen at Tracey Morgan Gallery, Asheville, NC, from June 1 to July 28thInfo

Lost Utopias (Black Dog Publishing, 2016) by Jade Doskow, with essays by Richard Pare and Jennifer Minner. Info

New York-based large-format architectural and landscape photographer Jade Doskow is known for her rigorously composed and eerily poetic images that examine the intersection of people, nature, and time. Doskow's work has been widely exhibited and reviewed, including Elle Decor Italia, Newsweek Japan, Dezeen, Slate, Smithsonian, and Wired, just to name a few. Doskow is best known for her long-term body of work Lost Utopias; the 2016 monograph of this project was named by American Photo as one of the top photo books of the year. Doskow's work is represented by Front Room Gallery in New York and Tracey Morgan Gallery in Asheville.

Doskow holds a BA from New York University and an MFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts. She is on the faculty of both the International Center of Photography and the School of Visual Arts. Website