In the “18-37 21st Road” series Rispoli documents the home of his childhood and adolescence. It is not just the building but also the personal affects that tell the story he needs to record. The images lay bare both the contents and Rispoli’s view of them in a metaphorical double vision.
The tableaus seem to toggle between historical document and daily ubiquity. They make present a foreign past and the private life tucked behind so many dusty curtains of New York’s immigrant neighborhoods. There is a forensic coldness to the camera’s reporting. No flourish or filter, no nostalgia seems permitted. Baroque and Victorian clutter is placed carefully with mail from today, shattering the sense that this is Miss Havisham’s frozen world- the place is still very much inhabited and curated.
Religious icons, synthetic flowers, orange pill bottles of holy water- it could all be seen as aspirational and sweet, or pathetic and misguided. The viewer may feel sympathy, longing, derision, or repulsion- the meaning of the image becomes an interweaving of the position of the presenter, the presented subject, and of the viewer. In an odd juxtaposition they are both full of biography and yet void of feeling.