Former New York Times photographer, artist Edward Keating –I met him through our mutual friend, the Great Master of our time, Robert Frank. Recently I had a chance to get to know and get closer to the artist and we spent some time talking about photography, art and life.
Recently, Curator, Hyewon Yi, and I were invited to his studio in NYC and were able to interview him about his life, photography and his recent works.
Hyewon Yi: You have done a lot of magazine work. BesidesRolling Stone, which magazines have you worked for?
Keating: Besides Rolling Stone, I have worked for W, Time Magazine, New York Times Magazine, New York Magazineand others.
Yi: Are you still working for magazines?
Keating: Yes, I do work for the same national magazines.
Mie Iwatsuki: When you received the Pulitzer Prize, that was for 9/11 and when you were working as a staff photographer for New York Times. Your photo was a very calming photo of a dust-covered tea set. And I also have seen other amazing pictures you took from the 9/11, many from the rescue sight late at night from Ground Zero, high atop the pile of rubble.
（PULITZER PRIZE： http://www.edwardkeating.com Click PULITZER PRIZE）
Keating: Yes, I’ll show you. (The pictures) The Pulitzer was a group submission, shared with other photographers. As for myself, I began trying to get on the site on day two, as no staff photographers had been able to get onto the site by that point because of the tight security. Freelancers, howcver, were getting onto the site for the paper and were getting their pictures publish, so for me it was devastating, the thought I would be shut out, as I had always been good at being able to sneak into places.
9/11 started for me as the first day of my vacation. My wife and I had been invited to go to Portugal with Robert Frank, his wife, June Leaf, and a few others for one week, but for obvious reasons those plans were canceled. No planes were getting off the ground and there was this monumental story to cover. On the morning of 9/11 I was far from Ground Zero and was sent to hospitals around the city looking for the injured. On day two, disguised as a construction/ rescue worker, I unsuccessfully attempted to get onto the site, but I finally succeeded on Day 3. After day three, I was able to sneak onto the site every day and was only the staff person who had been able to do that, up to that point. On my first night there, posing as rescue worker I joined the 'bucket-brigade', passing buckets filled with ruble, one-at-a-time, hoping to find survivors. I had to be very discreet, as no photographers were allowed onto the site, but I would occasionally step away from my position, take a few pictures and jump back and resuming passing buckets again. One point I was able to go up on top of the pile and see the broad expanse of people, rescue workers below me.
Yi: It is so amazing that you got in dressed as a construction worker. You actually worked in the bucket brigade.
Keating: It's unusual to get involved in a story one is covering, but these were unusual circumstances.
Carrie: (Keating's wife) : So how long were you in jail when you were arrested?
Yi: You were arrested?
Keating: Around 4 months into it, I was arrested for trespassing at Ground Zero and had to spend a few hours in jail. I was sent down to the site by my editors, following up on a rumor that a group of bodies of dead firefighters had been found in the rubble. My editors wanted me to get close up, so I was able to acquire a pass from one of the contractors I knew there and was able to get past security and onto the site.
So, while working close up to the firemen, a Port Authority cop approached me after seeing me with a camera and asked me what I was doing and if was with the press.
I acknowledged that I was with the press and was immediately placed under arrest, put in hand cuffs, marched me up the hill and brought to the local precinct. I went to court a few weeks later where NY Times defended me, but because I refused to name the person who gave me the pass to get onto the site, they refused to cut me the deal I wanted in court. As a result, I have a record, but it’s under seal and can opened only through a court order. I would have gotten off completely without a record had I given up the name of the person, but as a journalist I cannot name my sources. The police were very angry about that. I was loyal to the guy. He had become my friend would have lost his job, his pension, everything had I named him. I told the police I would no sooner jam up one of my guys than they would not jam up one of their own. I would never give up anyone's name like that. That's the honorable thing to do. Who would ever trust the press if we did things like that? It was an easy decision.
Carrie (Keating's wife) : There are many stories of Eddie like this. Very courageous, he has been long tough situation...
Keating: This picture here is of me unconscious was when I was a freelancer (shows photo) and I got really beat up.
Iwatsuki: Oh my God! You really were beat up. Who took this picture? You are all bloody.
Keating: The photo was taken by Keith Myers, A New York Times staff photographer and I had just been beaten up by a gang of eighty to a hundred guys. I was very lucky I wasn’t killed.
Yi: Oh my God, where, when? What happened?
Keating: It was at the Crown Heights Brooklyn, in 1991. It was a big riot, the biggest race riot in fifty years and was between blacks and Jews and the police. One man had been murdered the night before. I came very close to getting killed and was lucky to survive the attack. The rioters had bats and pipes and bricks. They chased me down the street and when they caught me they accosted me with the pipes and bats. I fell to the ground and was then punched in the head with a brick.
Iwatsuki: How did the riot start?
Keating: The local Jewish rabbi, the Grand Rabbi, used to receive a police escort to and from his the cemetery every Sunday to visit his wife’s grave so, on his way back from the cemetery one Sunday afternoon, one of the cars in his caravan sped up to make a red light, lost control of his car and wound up killing a six-year-old black boy in a horrible accident. The black community thought they were being treated differently than the Jews by the police. No police escorts for them, unless they were being brought off jail, so it set off a lot of simmering tensions and sparked a huge riot. When the police finally pulled me out of the crowd they thought I was dead, but fortunately they got to me in time. I was put in the hospital and wound up with fifty stitches in the back of my head.
Iwatsuki: What? Fifty stitches? When?
Keating: This was over twenty years ago.
Yi: If you had been a war photographer, you might have been killed.
Iwatsuki: Have you been to any wars to cover it?
Keating: I have covered just one conflict, Kosovo and Albania 1999. That was when NATO, along with the US, took on Slobodan Milošević in Serbia. The Serbs were committing genocide against the ethnic Albanians in Serbia and killed many thousands of people. I got in trouble there also.
Iwatsuki: That was when Serbia and Kosovo were two separate states. What happened to you there?
Keating: Right. I was picked up by Serb military guys during my crossover to Kosovo from Albania and they took me into custody. They detained me for three hours, placed guns to my head, tied plastic bags over my head suffocating me. I’m not when I say it was frightening.
They interrogating me and asked dozens of questions. They photographed me, really terrorizing me, as I knew I was being processed and going to be held, and perhaps for a long while, I felt. Except for their commanding officer, they knew very little English, but they were taunting me with chants of "America, Bill Clinton, no good. Bomb Serbia"
Hyewon: You were the hostage!
Keating: Yeah, I was their property. They spent a long time going through my bags. But one of the soldiers found a harmonica of mine. He pulled it out of my bag, took a good look at it and then jabbed me in my chest with it, saying, "Bob Dylan!, Bob Dylan!" He wanted me to play Bob Dylan! The rest of the men laugh but I just ignored them and did nothing.
Iwatsuki: You always have a harmonica.
Hyewon: At that point, you could have started playing something.
Keating: Yes, I usually carry a harmonica with me. I ignored them because it’s humiliating, you know? I didn't feel like doing dog tricks for them.
And then the same guy finds a second harmonica in my bags and does the same thing - jabs me in the chest with it with it and says, "Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan." I tried to ignore him again but this time all the men are looking at me expecting me to play, and at this point I felt I had little choice. I paused, took a deep breath, banged the harmonica against my knee to shake out any lint or dust and just launched into "Mr. Tambourine Man" as loud and as crazy-like as I could. At this point it seemed like an opportunity - and when I finished, they roared. They cheered, screamed and crapped. They were knocked out by it. One soldier immediately offered me a cigarette and then started chanting, "Bombs no good, Music good, bombs no good, Music good!" The funny thing was that I had recently quit smoking, just six weeks earlier, but I didn't hesitate and smoked that cigarette. The highest ranking officer then seemed a bit perplexed as if he didn't know what to do, He scratched his head, thinking, and then yelled at me, "Get out. Get your things! Go! Get things. Go!" It was one of life’s beautiful moments, and all because of music. And Bob Dylan.
Yi: It saved your life. So after that, how did you escape?
Keating: Yes, they were very entertained by it. I just walked back over the bridge I walked over a few hours earlier and reentered Albania.
Yi: Scary, but it’s really an amazing story.
Iwatsuki: This story reminds me of the photographer who just had a show at Yossi Milo Gallery -Tim Heatherington- a war photographer who was killed not too long ago.
Keating: I have not seen anything compared to what he had gone through. I’m too wimpy for that and don’t have the guts for that stuff, to cover War. There are different grains of people.
Very few of them have girlfriends, wives or kids. They have no life, apart from the road. They basically live on the road. Early on in my career I had to make some choices and knew I didn't want that and to spend my life on the road. I then asked myself, do I want to do magazine or newspaper work? Commercial advertising? Fashion? There are so many different roads you can take.
As a street photographer I was interested in real life, so that brought me to journalism. I considered war/conflict photography, living my life on the road with a home base in New York, but I didn't want to be 45, 50, 60 years old living with bunch of other guys and roommates. Because that’s the way it was going to be, I thought. I liked the idea of having a family, a real home. You know, you get a vision of your life and want certain things. I did not see myself spending my life like that.
Iwatsuki: So in which direction did you start to narrow down?
I always saw myself as a New York City photographer. My heroes were people like Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, Bruce Davidson, and all the other great street photographers. These guys were getting old, so there has to be new generation to step up and pick up where they left off.
I started to see myself start following that kind of tradition. Not the tradition of Robert Capa, WW2 or Life Magazine, those kinds of photographers. There are many different traditions in photography. There are the great fashion photographers, the great documentary photographers, great portrait photographers. And I always saw myself more in the tradition of newspaper/ magazine/ Street Photographer type, so... I have taken some projects, but I am not trying to change the world, I don't have any real causes except for the basic human condition, you know?
Iwatsuki: So, the transition was from the New York Times to the series "Route 66"?
(Route66 Photographs: http://www.edwardkeating.com Click THE ROAD）
Keating: No, the transition was from street photography to the New York Times. When I started to freelance the Times,luckily, was I was able to get a very different type of photograph published, breaking many of their traditional rules. I was coming from the other end, street photography, a much more personal type of journalism, as opposed to the straightforward and non-dynamic style. I was coming from the other school, the Garry Winogrand/ Robert Frank school. That was the kind of photography that interested me.
So, I started to get those kind of photos published in New York Times. It was new to them and to their readers, but nobody even tried there before, or, if they had, they weren’t successful. To put it bluntly, the Times picture style was pretty dull. There was internal war on the Times picture desk. There were some young and more progressive editors, and I sort of took the position of the point guy against the more conservative types. I was doing much more analytical take on the news and in much more personal way, as opposed to conventional straightforward way, and I was surprisingly successful.
I started freelancing there since 1998 and after three years of that there was a job opening for staff photographer, but I wasn’t interested in it. I was a successful freelancer then, liked the range of things I was doing, but I knew I was one of the top candidates for the job. I told them straight away that I wasn’t interested in the job, went so far as to write a letter saying that, but one month later I realized that I’d be crazy not to take that job. They run my best pictures. The assignments were interesting and they assigned me well. And financially it would be a big boost for me. Six months later they officially offered me the job and I took it.
Iwatsuki: You were there at the Times for twelve years. And now you are in the sphere of the artists. Are you able to use those pictures you took during your time at the Times in your work?
Keating: No, it was a work for hire situation. It was a joint copyright while I was there. They paid my salary, insurance, car insurance, et cetera. Now that I no longer work there, all the rights revert back to them. I do not have the copyrights to those photographs any more.
Yi: Did you have an exhibition with Robert Frank?
Keating: I exhibited “Route 66” in Pingyao, China in 2007 and while there the Chinese learned I was friends with Frank so they asked me if I could get him to come to China the following year. It took some work, but I did get him to agree to go to China in 2008 and there I exhibited my photographs of New York City alongside his exhibition of "The Americans." That year was the 50th anniversary of the French edition by Robert Delpire (one year before the American publication of the book on Grove Press), and it was only the second time that the book had been published in it’s entirety. The following year the Metropolitan Museum of New York exhibited "The Americans" again upon the 50th anniversary of the American edition.
Iwatsuki: So now your series, "Route 66," is completed and you are trying to get it published. Seeing all those images, after you made the trip many from one end to the other, I would like you to tell us your connection of you and this road- what made you go back there so many times.
Keating: My mother grew up in St. Louis, MO., near Route 66 and my grandfather took Route 66 west when he moved to California in the late 40's after Word War 2. My first trip on Route 66 was at 21 years old, a young man, drunk, heading west to start a new life. I was young, without much direction and drove to California from Connecticut looking for something different. I did make some big changes in my life during my time in California and then over 20 years later I went back to photograph the old highway for the New York Times Magazine. Once the New York Times Magazine published the story I saw the possibility for a great book so I continued to go back over and over again until I knew I was done. I first thought I was finished after six years but, in fact, it took me another six years to complete.
Iwatsuki: So those are your works that you have been taking in NYC - your take of NYC Street Photography. I can see old- time NYC is so much more photogenic.
Keating: New York, Manhattan anyway, has become very boring in so many ways. Times Square no longer is a place for New Yorkers, just tourists. The town has been cleaned up, polished and only those with millions of dollars can afford to move here anymore. (Showing photos) This is Times Square late at night; a homeless crazy woman flashing in Grand Central Terminal. Homeless woman at the piers, homeless at the Metropolitan Museum …
(NYC Pictures: http://www.edwardkeating.com Click STREET NYC）
Yi: You said you are not interested in changing the society, but I clearly see you are interested in changing the society …
Keating: Yeah? Here is "Route 66," Chicago to LA, it’s the first road built in the mid-twenties, and this is the photograph of the very beginning, going to Chicago, the season would be June. (Photo) Then here is New Mexico and California. (Photo)
Iwatsuki: You said you really have not explored portraits, but I thank you for the opportunity of doing a portrait project with me and am looking forward to it. What kind of portrait would you be interested in doing? You said Bill Brandt was one of the photographers you were interested in and he is the reason for you to begin photography. We saw some of Brandt’s portraits of his wife. Which part of the artist’s work do you have a deep connection with?
Keating: I love Bill Brant's work, but his nudes I find particularly powerful.
Iwatsuki: So, after all these paths, as an artist, as a photographer, what is the project or show you would like to do now? What's coming next? This time you also showed us your short film. It's really amazing cinematography. We are quite impressed. I would also love to see such a direction in your future work. Can you tell me more?
(FILM: http://www.edwardkeating.com Click FILM）
Keating: I would like to take on portraiture. In the end everything, all art, is about people, so why not come in and real closer and see what stories a face can tell? I think it may be the most noble of all arts, so why not?
Iwatsuki: Thank you for the conversation.
April 2013, Edward Keating Studio, NYC
dward Keating info: Website: http://www.edwardkeating.com/
Hyewon Yi info:
元ニューヨークタイムズ紙フォトグラファー、アーティスト：エドワード•キーティング インタビュー。（by キュレーターのヘイウォン•イ＆MIE）
アートや写真や人生についていろいろ語っているうちに、とても親しくなる事が出来、最近友人のキュレーター、ヘイウォンと共に彼のスタジオを訪問し、彼のニューヨークタイムズ紙時代の過去のエピソード、現在、またこれからを、彼の作品 やシリ-ズ 「ルート 66」を通じてインタビューすることが出来ました。
Rolling Stone, W, Time Magazine, New York Times, New York Magazines, Time Magazine 等を最初フリーランスで行っていたその後１２年間ニューヨークタイムズ紙のスタッフ•フォトグラファーをしていたと答えています。
彼は有名な Plitzer prize
の受賞者であり、受賞作品は 9/11 の時、ニューヨークタイムズ紙に掲載された作品です。（ティーセットが灰にかぶさったイメージ）
（写真 PULITZER PRIZE http://www.edwardkeating.com PULITZER PRIZEをクリック。）
そしてもう一つの 9/11の救済部隊 を小高い丘の上から撮った写真も彼による撮影で、このイメージは沢山の人の記憶に残るものですが、この時キーティングは救済部隊の格好をして忍び込み、働きながら作業場の上方へ移動して隠れて撮影したそうです。
Tim Heatherington を思い出されました。キーティングはそうした戦争をカバーする事に興味があったのかとの質問に、彼はこう答えています。
僕はその様な戦争の過酷な戦闘シーン等は見ていない。戦争をカバーするフォトグラファー達の殆どは家族や子供もなく、危険な場所をめぐり渡り歩き、年於いても沢山のルームメートと暮らしている。僕は家と家族があることが大切で、それは自分の道では無いと思った。自分にとってナチュラルな道というものを写真家は選んで行くんだ。僕はコマーシャル•フォトグラフィーも経て、ファッションにもすこし興味があった、でもすぐにやりたいかと言ったらそうではなく、僕はやはりエディトリアル、実際のライフ、ジャーナリズム、ストリート•フォトグラフィー、フォト•ジャーナリズムに興味があったんだ。Robert Frank や Bruce Davidson と言った大御所の、彼らのようなストリート•フォトグラフィーに興味があったんだ、と答えています。
そして Gerry Winogrand や Robert Frankの様なストリート•フォトグラフィーに興味があったキーティングは、ニューヨーク•タイムズ紙在籍中にそうしたストリート•フォトグラフィーのスタイルの写真を掲載し始めるのでした。
キーティングは ロバート•フランクと2008年に中国へ行き、ロバート•フランクの "The Americans" とキーティングのニューヨーク • シティーの作品を展示しました。その年はRobert Delpireによるフレンチ•エディションの、ロバート•フランクの "The Americans" の50周年記念の年であり、この翌年にメトロポリタン美術館がアメリカン•エディションのロバート•フランクの "The Americans" の 50周年記念展覧会を開催しました。
(写真 NYC Pictures: http://www.edwardkeating.com STREET NYCをクリック。）
キーティングは彼のシリ-ズの ルート66 "Route 66" について、このマザーロ-ド"Route 66"と自身の繋がりについて、母親が"Route 66" に近いセントルイスで育った事、また自分が酒飲みであった21歳の頃に新しい道を探そうと当てもなくコネチカットからカリフォルニアへ向かってドライブした経験等を思い出しながら語ってく
れました。そしてキーティングはこの２０年後にニューヨーク•タイムス•マガジンのストーリーの為にこのハイウェイへ戻ることになります。そしてその時キーティングはこの"Route 66" をシリ-ズとして撮り続け、本にしたいと決意し、その後も12年間このハイウェイに戻り、"Route 66"の写真を撮り続けました。
(写真 Route66 Photographs: http://www.edwardkeating.com THE ROADをクリック。）
私はキーティングとMoMAで行われた Bill Brantの展覧会を一緒に見に行きました。Bill Brantはキーティングが写真を始めるきっかけの一つとなったという写真家であったそうで、キーティングはBill Brant の撮ったヌ-ドはとてもパワフルだと話しています。
- 2013年 4月 エドワード•キーティングのNYのスタジオにて。
Edward Keating info:
Hyewon Yi info: