Front Room Gallery located at 205 Warren Street, Hudson, NY is pleased to present, “Passing East” a solo exhibition of photographs by Stephen Mallon. “Passing East” is the third iteration of Mallon’s work following “Passing Freight” and “Passing West.” This series of photographs captures the still active rail lines that carry freight to destinations across the country. Mallon’s industrial landscape photographs isolate singular freight cars within this iconic transportation system, which has played a critical role in supply infrastructure across the continent for hundreds of years.
These trains inhabit their environment, as characters that are not visibly moving but seem completely encapsulated with the landscape around them. Within the frame of the photograph the train cars take up almost all of the composition, yet the little hints above and below them place them in a singular space. In “Flatcar CSX” a rusty line of axls runs almost the length of the photograph sitting on a flatcar at the bottom of the frame. Above the flatcar a lush forest of trees is gently changing from green to orange in the autumn weather. In “Flatcar NOKL” the car seems to be carrying huge burnt umber barn through the snowy landscape. In “Tankcar GATZ” some trickster has graffitied “$20,000…” along the side of the tank car in large green and white cartoonish letters. One wonders what they were thinking, since surely $20,000 would be a bargain for whatever’s inside the tank. In “TOFC CTLZ” a flat car is carrying a trailer that is painted the identical color of the sky, with only the white seams standing out—like Wonder Woman’s invisible plane.
These trains are all moving, quite literally. And while they might appear to be stopped in the photograph, it is only for that split second as they pass Stephen Mallon, his camera, and his tripod. Mallon’s procedure involves many elements including the perfect location, light, the individual personality of each car, the trickiness of getting exactly the right moment, and patience. The intersection of mechanical and natural worlds, singular encounters where the trains activate the landscape are hard to predict.
Stephen Mallon is well known for his series “Next Stop Atlantic,” featuring decommissioned NYC Subway cars as they are retired in the depths of the Atlantic
Editor’s Note: For more information about Stephen Mallon’s exhibition, link here: https://www.frontroomles.com