Ryan McGinley’s Upstate New York
Since 2004, Ryan McGinley has taken summer road trips across America with a gang of models — excursions that have yielded some of his best-known work. But his next two shows at Team Gallery (running semi-concurrently at both gallery locations in SoHo and Venice, Calif.), reveal a dramatic shift in thematic focus. Whereas McGinley’s road trip series resulted in youthful, sometimes forlorn-feeling images of nude forms set against the backdrop of landscapes that varied according to geographic location, this most recent collection of photographs was shot entirely in upstate New York.
For “Winter” (opening tomorrow in New York) and “Fall” (opening Nov. 15 in Venice), the 37-year-old photographer’s lens captures the theme of change through time, specifically the cooler seasons of the year, and their wildly different representations of nature and weather conditions. “In 2004, I made a promise to myself that I would travel America extensively for 10 years,” McGinley explains. “After my annual summer road trip in 2014, I had achieved that goal. I wanted something new, and shooting the fall and winter upstate felt like a huge change,” he adds.
For six months last autumn and winter, McGinley rented an artist’s home in Hudson, N.Y., from which he set out on scouting drives and, sometimes with a small team, photo shoots that spanned from Harriman State Park to as far north as Syracuse. Having grown up nearby in New Jersey, McGinley had some familiarity with the environs; he was a snowboard instructor at Hunter Mountain during his winters in high school and also frequented a skatepark in Newburgh. But the shoots themselves, and specifically the unyielding, icy conditions in some of the state’s more northern locales, demanded a preparedness unlike any of his previous road trips (especially given that, per usual, most of the models were unclothed). “We’d slide our equipment in sleds and pull them behind us with ropes,” McGinley says. “We’d hike in knee-high Muck boots and long Patagonia insulated parkas down to our ankles. Our shoes had tiny ice climber spikes stretched over the bottoms so we wouldn’t slip.”
The images in the shows, almost arresting in their otherworldliness, are a paean to temporality as much as to the region. Here, McGinley shares shots from the series, explains how he and his team readied themselves for the elements and presents his favorite spots to frequent in Hudson on days off.