Pacific Northwest, USA, January 2021
Artist’s statement: These are part of a larger family album of color slides taken by my father between 1948 – 1965 with a single lens reflex Leica that he returned with from WWII. The venues are all from the Jackson Heights, Queens, NYC neighborhood, upstate Hudson Valley.
In 1999, the collection suffered a nearly incomprehensible accident. Stored temporarily in a cottage basement on Pender Island, Canada, they were soaked by a water heater malfunction. The damage was not discovered for some months. The emulsion of 95% of the images had literally ‘melted’ into fields of color and as well were covered with dirt and mold.
I could not simply throw them away. Ten years went by before it occurred to me that the images still had a retrievable importance that transcended the original intent and framing. I began an ‘adventure,’ if you will, of digitally cataloging/cleaning/restoring the slides to document the significance that they still retained for me, and what expressive strength they possessed for a larger audience.
Sixty images remained ‘identifiable’ and another 300 or so had dissolved into pure form abstraction/vivid color not unlike my ‘smears/Quantisms’.
What have I sought in this…. rebirth/phoenix? That even in ‘imbroglio’, an Aboriginal ‘soak’, I’ve found recognition/identity/solace/surcease of sorrow in this ‘dreamtime’ window. In a very real sense, the images are for me ‘spookville’ big-time – but in a good way. Hand in hand with each view is a ‘title’ which if anything offers the viewer a ‘key’ to what… I see in the image.
A series of these recently appeared in the online journal AADUNA.
Originally from New York City, Robert Bharda has resided in the Northwest US where for thirty-five years he specialized in vintage photographica as a profession. His illustrations have appeared in numerous publications, both in the US and abroad including AADUNA, Naugatuck River Review, Blue Five Notebook, and within recently published Catamaran and Santa Clara Reviews.
His image portfolios have been featured in Cahoodahoodaling, Superstition, Serving House Journal, Adirondack Review and Cirque. Also a writer, he has seen his work published in The North American Review, Northwest Review, Shenandoah, Quarterly West, Willow Springs, ACM, Kansas Quarterly, Cimarron and others, including anthologies.