Jon Michael Anzalone

Ambient Reaction
Location: New York City
Nationality: Queens
Biography: Analog spiritualist. Crumbling cities and strange places. Jon Michael Anzalone works independently on stories of personal interest and significance, carrying out well-studied, politically mature, and humanist photo essays on obscure topics. His... read on
Ambient Reaction
jon michael anzalone
Jan 11, 2017
During a long, affecting political cycle, everyone has something to say about their viewpoints and reaction to things being said and done around us. We may find ourselves in a position when shooting that we feel we have a responsibility to create something beyond a topical critique or polemic, or to be too "on the nose" when choosing scenes and imagery to express ideas. It's easy to fall into the trap of cliches and "meme" but I think it isn't productive to throw work into the churn of media-cycle work, where the morning's outrages are intolerably boring by the afternoon.

In 2016, creating new personal work, I wanted to shoot a meaningful reaction to the year, and I wanted to shoot in America. I've seen a lot of good work about Rust Belt "Trump Towns" or the independent spirit of Bernie Sanders rallies, but I don't shoot that way, and I don't have any grand contribution to the pool of work that could stand out beyond what was being created. 

So then, I consider my new photoessay, NO LAWS, to be an "ambient reaction" to the year. In a few scattered moments that correspond to significant political moments in the year (March, October, New Year's Eve), and two journeys (Montana, and Costa Rica), I shot work that expressed what I was feeling and seeing without ever addressing the subject matter directly. Montana, I considered to be part of an American soul--the freedom, libertarianism, of the West. Costa Rica is a personal locale, where my parents now live. Or, together, even though the locations bear little tangible relation, the connection of an American's soul to America's soul, versus expatriation and untethering from country. My home, where the family I grew up with no longer lives, and not my home, which in my parents' domicile in an unfamiliar place is filled with the iconography and memory of my youth.

I think, as a whole, it creates a message in the negative space of what it chooses to express directly, and what it chooses to not express. It is produced by an ambient reaction, or a way of looking closely at something without looking directly at it.

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