Rebecca Norris Webb: Art in America

Rebecca Norris Webb:
Art in America

Project Description

Rochester’s Photographic Memory

April 2014 – April sees the release of husband and wife duo Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb’s Memory City, a book of photography arising out of a series of trips to Roschester, N.Y., in 2012, following Eastman Kodak’s declaration of bankruptcy at the beginning of the year. The couple were attracted by the city’s rich photographic tradition (besides Kodak’s 134 years there, it’s also home to the George Eastman House, the country’s first photographic museum, and the Visual Studies Workshop, a center for photography and other media arts founded by Nathan Lyons) and its historical significance as a center of progressive activity during the 19th century (counting both Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony as residents). They turned their attention, however, to today’s Rochester: “a city,” wrote Alex Webb in an e-mail to A.i.A., “struggling with many of the urban ills that bedevil so many U.S. Rust Belt cities” yet endowed with “its own unique sense of energy and community.”

Memory City is the couple’s second book, following their exploration of modern-day Cuba in 2009’s Violet Isle. Photographing Rochester’s streets, Webb contributed black-and-white images taken with his last rolls of Kodachrome (which can no longer be processed in color), interspersed with digital full-color pictures, whereas Norris Webb, using only film, offers still lifes and portraits of women from the region. “We knew from the start we wanted the conceptual collaboration to be as layered as Rochester itself and the many cities, past and present, within it,” Norris Webb wrote, with the pair aiming for “an elegiac tone befitting the fading days of Kodak and film.”