Sylvia de Swaan

Art & Documentary Photographer
     
The Snows of Yesteryear
Location: Utica, New York
Nationality: Romanian Born/Now Ukraine
Biography: I’m a Romanian born art and documentary photographer who works on several long-term projects concurrently, often informed or influenced by world events. Thus my longest running work, "Return," currently titled, "Narratives:... MORE
Public Story
The Snows of Yesteryear
Copyright Sylvia de Swaan 2022
Date of Work Dec 1969 - Ongoing
Updated Mar 2020
Topics Fine Art, Landscape, nature, Photography
I borrowed the title for this series, from "The Snows of Yesteryear," the book by Gregor von Rezzori who comes from the same region of the world where I was born,

"Gregor von Rezzori was born in Czernowitz, a onetime provincial capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that was later to be absorbed successively into Romania, the USSR, and Ukraine—a town that was everywhere and nowhere, with a population of astonishing diversity. Growing up after World War I and the collapse of the empire, Rezzori lived in a twilit world suspended between the formalities of the old nineteenth-century order which had shaped his aristocratic parents and the innovations, uncertainties, and raw terror of the new century. The haunted atmosphere of this dying world is beautifully rendered in the pages of The Snows of Yesteryear." (New York Review)

Since 1975 I‘ve lived in Upstate New York, initially in a Hamlet called Knoxboro and subsequently in the City of Utica. In the early days the winters here in the “north country” were apocalyptic and it was not uncommon for the first storms to hit by Halloween or Thanksgiving. The rolling hills and harsh winters some times called to mind the terrain of my early childhood in Europe. But having arrived from warmer climates (Mexico & New Orleans) it took a while to acclimatize to the frigid weather and get used to country living. In those years it was not uncommon for the first snows to arrive at Halloween or Thanksgiving to be hit with two or three feet of snow in a single storm and to be house bound with cabin fever for a few days at a time. I started a series of portraits of my neighbors by visiting them in their homes and listening to their stories. Currently I live in the city of Utica, a post-industrial town where I’ve worked on a series about how small cities and towns adapt to a fast changing world. Lucky we are, that to date Central New York State has been spared those climatic disasters that have plagued many other regions of the world, however there has been a notable increase in erratic weather patterns that are having their affects in the ecology of the region, among others, the diminution of maple sap flow, the virtual disappearance of bees, and the proliferation of Lyme disease causing ticks.

All the photos in this section were taken in  the immediate environment of Utica, NY ©Sylvia de Swaan



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