A chance meeting between visual artists in The Big Apple can lead to very, very big things. No one understands this idea better than Stefan Fiedler, the owner of SALON IRIS, and New Yorker Lazarus Jean-Baptiste. The two men stumbled upon one another outside of New York City's Jacob Javits Cultural Arts Center, after attending the PhotoPlus International Conference & Expo held late October 2015. Stefan, an expert in large format printing, was an invited panelist at a Wilhelm Imaging Research Seminar. Lazarus, a self-taught photographer, was visiting the expo to alleviate his GAS (gear acquisition syndrome). When both men noticed they each wore a Sony Alpha 7RII around their necks they began to chat. Friendly banter led to a cup of coffee and soon the men realized they had more than the Sony camera in common. The two men have now partnered to create one of the largest photographic exhibition prints ever.
Upon reviewing Jean-Baptiste's series NYCANDI (pronounced NYC AND I) inspired by Brassaï's, Paris By Night, an intrigued Fiedler took on the challenge of printing one of Lazarus' massive panoramic stitches. The resulting mega installation is the first public display of any of the photographer’s works. The crystal clear photo, "Twilight Lights” and other images which are a part of his 2-year long photographic poem to New York, were unveiled November 21, 2015 at the Photo + Adventure Trade Show in Vienna, Austria. A feat amazingly pulled off by Salon Iris in under 2 weeks.
Salon Iris printed "Twilight Lights" with a 104" wide HP L28500 latex printer at photographic quality with 1200 dpi print resolution, with dimensions of 8.2 x 31.8 feet. The work was then mounted in one piece and, according to Fiedler; it "impressively demonstrates state-of-the-art photo and printing capabilities." The image is so large that preparing it for set-up and hanging had to be meticulously synchronized and ultimately required 17 people in order to avoid excesses of tension on the physical construction.
Fiedler provides further technical details about preparing the behemoth for exhibition: "The mounting was done on location since the mounted print would be too big to transport by any means. We chose 19mm/0, 75 inch thick lightweight 'Smart-X' foamboard panels for support not only because they have an incredible weight/stability ratio, but also because the polystyrene material perfectly meets the demand for ecological materials." In actual fact, the materials can very well be recycled, including the mounting support which is backed and reinforced by super lightweight, wired aluminum frame construction.” Fiedler added, “Lazarus shot 26 individual photos with a Sony Alpha 7II at two rows of 13 images, which were stitched for the giant panorama. The lens he used was a Canon EF 200mm F2.8L." He shot from the New Jersey shores, 1.5 miles away. "Still," Fiedler remarked, "individual persons can easily be identified in the windows of the Manhattan skyscapers!" Fiedler noted, "It is certainly not the biggest panoramic photograph of all times, but it is definitely among the best made ones ever seen - and likely the one that has been printed and mounted in one piece at the largest size ever."
The Haitian-born polymath, Lazarus Jean-Baptiste not only taught himself the fine art of photography, but also, many years ago, makeup artistry while working as a security officer in the cosmetics department of Macy's Herald Square. As a result, he has become one of the most sought after make-up artists in the United States. Today however, Lazarus, who shoots mostly "Night Scapes", declares that the skyline of Manhattan has quickly become his "preferred model".
Those who are interested in seeing the Salon Iris mounting of this selected work should make haste to visit the Messe Wien by mid-January, 2016. By all accounts, the large cityscape print in Vienna is not only a must see, but also an inspirational tale brought to us by a chance encounter between two aesthetes who love what they do.
More images from NYCANDI will become public in 2016.*