For a guerilla artist, this one is polite and well-mannered.
We received an anonymous phone call at 9.30am on Monday from Atlantic City’s mysterious new photography phenomenon. Known only by the hashtag #ACANONYMOUS, this photographer has been stapling scenic images of the city in the place of boarded-up windows, worn-out planters and faded signs.This was our conversation:
What is the idea behind #ACANONYMOUS?
This is just a way to get my own artwork out on display. It’s not necessarily in your typical way – like in a gallery or having an exhibit – but I guess, this is a public way to get the photos out in neighborhoods and reach people that wouldn’t necessarily get a chance to see the work. Also, the point is to attract people to go to these neighborhoods and see what’s there for themselves. There’s so much potential in Atlantic City, all the architecture…It’s just a beautiful place, you just gotta kind of go around and explore and find the stuff. I think it’s a pretty cool way to get photography out.
Why be anonymous?
Well, some of the locations may be public or private property.
The way I see it is covering up an eyesore. I’m sure people would rather look at a nice image of Atlantic City, a colorful, bright, thought-provoking image as opposed to a blank, faded piece of wood or a sign that’s been there for a decade maybe on a lot. I’m just trying to help create a better image.
Why Atlantic City?
I grew up in the area and I’ve just been going to Atlantic City, photographing different things for the past maybe 10 years or so. Something about Atlantic City always keeps me coming back, there’s just so much untapped potential in every aspect for the city. There’s so much to see. The city just has a lot of potential and I always go back.
Why use cardboard printouts of photographs?
It’s just what’s going to last a little longer, though they won’t last (forever) and that’s a good thing. It’s all temporary but if people can get out to see these images, its all part of the process. Maybe it’s sitting in someone’s house instead of where it was. It wasn’t meant for someone to take but if they took it and it’s somewhere and it’s not in the trash, I think that’s pretty cool.
The images are measured perfectly, they fit in eyesores. It’s not bringing any value to the actual property but just visually it’s more appealing to see a giant four-foot by three-foot print over a boarded up window.
Are you a professional photographer?
I do photography and video work, this is my career. I guess people ask, What draws you to Atlantic City? It’s what I enjoy…Getting out, catching the sunrise, you’re sitting on the ocean, it’s so quiet – you have this town that is 24/7 but you can find this quiet in the Inlet.
We noticed a lot of your work is in the Inlet – what draws you to that neighborhood?
I’m usually there more early morning, or maybe late at night. It’s just a quiet, peaceful area. Before they started the reconstruction on the boardwalk, they had all the remnants down there and that was just really cool to go photograph… There’s a real sense of community. Over the years I’ve seen the same people, the local fishers, the retired guys on their bikes…It’s a unique area, you feel safe and it’s right there on the inlet. It’s an amazing fishing spot, you see these giant commercial fishing boats come in and out, you can sit there on the jetty and watch dolphins jump around at sunrise, there’s surfing, there’s Gardner’s Basin and the lighthouse there. There’s just a lot up there. There’s so much potential for the area. Just got to get things going in the right direction.
What are you going to do next?
I have plenty of work to put up. There’s endless canvases throughout the city – these little frames on brick buildings. I would like to draw attention to these neighborhoods that people might not necessarily see, just to appreciate the architecture, the location. I mean, you’re in Atlantic City , these different neighborhoods, maybe you think, “I see potential in this neighborhood, I’m going to establish a business in this vacant warehouse,” maybe.
What do you hope it will achieve?
The project as a whole? Just to get the work out there for people to see. I would like to have this – we’ll see how far this project goes, how long it lasts – but I’d like ultimately to get it in front of people who maybe aren’t from this area. I started Instagram, @ac_anonymous. That’s where people can check back and get weekly updates with new cross-streets for where to find this artwork. But the project as a whole is just to show Atlantic City in a positive light, just to show the potential and get our work out there.
You said ‘our’ – are you open to collaborating?
Absolutely! I have people that I shoot with on a regular basis that are involved. I’m definitely interested to hear people’s feedback and really get a feel for what people think of the project… I didn’t really plan on having any social media, but that was a way to gather up images for people to see and have that mystery element to it… Maybe I’ll do some video content, behind-the-scenes stuff, putting the pictures up – we’ll see.
You can follow #ACANONYMOUS on instagram @ac_anonymous and find tagged photos using the hashtag.