(American, b. 1960; resides Kalamazoo, MI)
For his Contemporary Views Along the First Transcontinental Railroad series (2010 to 2018), Richard Koenig traces the landscape along the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads in the tradition of 19th century photographers Alfred A. Hart and A.J. Russell. Taking the approach of “photography as archeology,” as the artist describes it, Koenig follows in the steps of Hart and Russell to closely consider the construction of the railroad as a landmark industrial achievement that shaped the course of American history. The images pay tribute to the engineers and Chinese and Irish laborers who masterfully built the railroad by documenting the historical markers and monuments established on the periphery of the tracks dedicated in their honor. Additionally, Koenig conveys the expansiveness of the tracks (the Central Pacific Railroad traverses 690 miles and the Union Pacific Railroad covers 1,086 miles) by using a panoramic lens to show an epic landscape, as if from the viewpoint of a passenger, while highlighting changes made to the land to accommodate its creation.
Richard Koenig completed his BFA from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York (1985) and his MFA from Indiana University, Bloomington (1998). Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at Riley Gallery, Notre Dame University, South Bend, IN (2018); Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS (2013); and Richmond Center for Visual Arts, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI (2008); among many others. He is currently the Genevieve U. Gilmore Professor of Art at Kalamazoo College.
By contradicting flatness and space, by underscoring the importance of perspective, I hope to confuse the objective with the subjective in a larger sense. As opposed to resolving issues, I want to increase a perception of tension, to dwell in that which is uncertain. —Richard Koenig
Richard Koenig’s Ambivalent Views pictures are carefully crafted illusions that utilize the camera’s capability to produce optical tricks and the artist’s skillful layering of photographs onto a single plane. Often featuring an image of a private space or an intimate moment inset within a public space, Koenig’s photographs evoke thoughts of our own private moments in the most generic and impersonal spaces - melding two frequently experienced conditions.