Steve Gubin, author
Chicagoland, Illusions of the Literal, is a black and white photographic dialogue with the people, places, and culture of contemporary Chicago. Steve Gubin spent six years (2008 to 2014) photographing the candid, ephemeral juxtapositions of people and places that occur daily on the streets of this major American city. Through his photographs, he isolates unique slices of time in which an untold story, a puzzling ambiguity, or a hidden significance may be revealed or pondered over. Chicagoland is both a historical record of Chicago in the early 21st century, and a tableau vivant of ambiguous urban stories. In his own unique style, but with slight echoes of William Klein, Yasuhiro Ishimoto, and Vivian Maier, Gubin presents the greater Chicago area as a black and white world of two-dimensional dreams, understood as much through feeling as through intellect.
This quietly evocative book captures the energy, diversity, and soul of Chicago in more than 100 black-and-white photographs taken during a six-year period beginning in 2008. Gubin, a fine-art and documentary photographer, says street photography captures a moment in time, yet it’s also an illusion of that specific moment and open to interpretation—“paradoxically both a fact and a fiction.” His goal is to reveal “a subtle sense of mystery and surrealism, odd frozen moments of uneasy ambiguity and whimsicality.” Photographs of stern-faced pedestrians and graffiti exude a gritty, urban vibe, commingling with blurred images that convey artistic purity with no easily accessible story line. Gubin speaks beautifully to mood with a stunning, romantic night shot of an isolated street during a snowstorm, and weather-driven images of bundled-up walkers in the snow (he calls one “Chicago Gulag”). Photographs of pedestrians, dog-walkers, and Lake Michigan swimmers capture the everyday rhythm of life. Interspersed throughout the book are crisp, textural images, showing the ordinary and showcasing the magnificent: a crisp, extended shot of an elevated train station; an industrial block lined with shadows; a cracked sidewalk from above; an alley; the reflective Cloud Gate sculpture, thronged with visitors; and Louis Sullivan’s gorgeous ironwork ornamentation. Gubin’s images are the narrative in this story of everyman’s Chicago. (BookLife)