Two Years After the Storm: Obscura Community Commission
Brileigh Hardcastle
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Obscura DAO
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April 2nd, 2022

Obscura is excited to unveil the first generation of the Obscura Community Commission. Each season, Obscura designates a commission theme or subject to photograph for the community. As a platform dedicated to facilitating photographers to pursue their projects, 10 artists were selected to go out and make work responding to pressing issues happening today around the world. “Two Years After the Storm” is commission about the current state the United States of America. This includes the pandemic, politics, environment, social and gender inequality, the police and more.

Left to right: Matthew Reamer, Natalie Sosa, Yogan Muller, Badir McCleary, & Amanda A.B. Martinez, Obscura Community Commission.
Left to right: Matthew Reamer, Natalie Sosa, Yogan Muller, Badir McCleary, & Amanda A.B. Martinez, Obscura Community Commission.

Each artist is provided a mentorship program and a curatorial partnership to help develop their work during the commission. Obscura’s first guest mentor for this commission will be Magnum photographer Jim Goldberg. He has assisted the Obscura team to help and inspire the selected photographers, as well as curate the final collection drop. Each artist delivered a collection of 15 NFTs to become part of a 150-piece curated collection. The funding for these commissions are secured through season passes to collectors which grant holders five 1/1 NFTs.

I took the theme “Two Years After the Storm” very personally. It's been a project that has pushed me to new boundaries, to focus on new things and from alternate perspectives. Sometimes we get so stuck in our own box and when we have great mentors teaching us how to see things from a different perspective, you can learn quite a bit about yourself quickly.

  • Amanda “A.B.” Martinez
Left to right: Jahnny Lee, Summer Wagner, Niall O'Brien, Alize Jireh, & Heather N. Stout, Obscura Community Commission.
Left to right: Jahnny Lee, Summer Wagner, Niall O'Brien, Alize Jireh, & Heather N. Stout, Obscura Community Commission.

The artists selected for this commission include:

  • Natalie Sosa
  • Summer Wagner
  • Alize Jireh
  • Amanda “A.B.” Martinez
  • Heather N. Stout
  • Yogan Muller
  • Badir McCleary
  • Niall O’Brien
  • Jahnny Lee
  • Matthew Reamer

It's nice to be alive by Natalie Sosa

My photography is the product of my desire to capture the perfect moment that communicates the reality of our life as much as possible without saying a single word. In "Two Years After The Storm, " I flew to New York for this purpose, taking my camera with me to the most common sites that people pass through on a daily basis, to observe ordinary life and the defects, to discover beauty in the midst of them. Portraying day-to-day actions of people of all ages, the role played by the city's architecture and its deterioration.

Natalie Sosa, Obscura Community Commission.
Natalie Sosa, Obscura Community Commission.

The Silent Hunt by Summer Wagner

For this commission I’ve focused on capturing the experiences of boys and men and how they’ve adapted to the last two years in and out of isolation.

Summer Wagner, Obscura Community Commission.
Summer Wagner, Obscura Community Commission.

To Bloom In Isolation by Alize Jireh

In "Two Years After the Storm" I explored the theme of loneliness and isolation that many of us have lived through during the pandemic, and how it has affected us collectively and as individuals. I did this through a series of portraits documenting close encounters with people as they described the fruits of their time in isolation and the loneliness felt in a world where we are masked up and distanced from each other, but still desperately seeking intimacy and human connection amidst the "storm."

Alize Jireh, Obscura Community Commission.
Alize Jireh, Obscura Community Commission.

The Storm Within by Amanda ”A.B.” Martinez

For the past two years, I've been boarded up while fighting for my life from cancer. Because of that, I didn't get to see most of my friends for over two years, which is where my idea for this commission was born. I traveled across the U.S. to see friends I hadn't seen in a long time due to the pandemic and my health and collaged them into stories to tell the common viewer what emotion was behind it.

Amanda "A.B." Martinez, Obscura Community Commission.
Amanda "A.B." Martinez, Obscura Community Commission.

Lost in the Mists of Time by Heather N. Stout

The long and winding roads of rural West Virginia led me to hidden hollers and seemingly invisible sights. I hiked through mud and snow, open to the quiet wilderness, exploring the deep feelings of this historical time from one of the many tucked away experiences of the American narrative. What was once symbolic of prosperity and pride is now left to ruin. Generational homes and farms that held warmth and memories within hand-built walls are collapsing. Lost in memory and forgotten to time, they wait bracing to the Earth. What is left behind is the evidence of people. The Americana of days gone by simmers upon embers of hope, warming the pandemic winter.

Heather N. Stout, Obscura Community Commission.
Heather N. Stout, Obscura Community Commission.

Aphatos by Yogan Muller

The storm wrought by the pandemic in Los Angeles was close to a category five hurricane, figuratively speaking. Building on one of my current bodies of work called "Telotypes", I photographed the visible manifestations the storm left in its wake, while bearing in mind the enormous and therefore precarious material reality of Los Angeles. Because I moved here just before the pandemic–in October 2019, the pictures are also imbued with emotional responses to a city that I instantly fell in love with for its astonishing impact on the landscape and people's psyches.

Yogan Muller, Obscura Community Commission.
Yogan Muller, Obscura Community Commission.

Someone You Know by Badir McCleary

My ideas in looking at Two Years After The Storm is a concentrated eye on the humanity beneath the glitz. Los Angeles, and other cities, have been hit very hard by the recent wave of viruses and homelessness and the citizens are trying to cope the best that they can. Looking at faces, places, and spaces to uncover the stories that reflect our reality.

Badir McCleary, Obscura Community Commission.
Badir McCleary, Obscura Community Commission.

405 by Niall O'Brien

“Two Years After the Storm”. For this work I concentrate on what’s considered the busiest freeway in LA county, the 405. Freeways act as an artery to the city’s day-to-day. Affected massively after the lockdown was announced there was an almost instantaneous environmental reaction to the lack of cars on the usually backed up lanes. It was quite something to see clear skies and hear locals talking fondly of the state of the city’s air despite what was happening with the global pandemic. Two years later, as the city tries to get itself back together, the traffic is back with vengeance. Still, a major talking point but with added darkness. There has been a rise in violent road rage reports, shootings, a sense of lawlessness while driving and the smog is as thick as ever. This work has become an objective portrait of the 405. The suburbs, the streets, and the people in and around the 72-mile stretch of a structure that binds a city together.

Niall O'Brien, Obscura Community Commission.
Niall O'Brien, Obscura Community Commission.

POIGNANT by Jahnny Lee

For this commission "Two Years After the Storm," my photography has been a documentation of Los Angeles while aiming towards the stories of adaptation within the modern human race.

Jahnny Lee, Obscura Community Commission.
Jahnny Lee, Obscura Community Commission.

Border Lord by Matthew Reamer

My contribution to Obscura’s Community Commission examines American life in 2022 through the lens of California’s Imperial Valley. As an irrigated desert with extensive renewable energy projects, bordered to the North by the environmental catastrophe that is the Salton Sea and to the South by the towering new US/Mexico border wall, the valley is a study in contradictions and a fascinating place from which to examine a variety topics and issues that the we continue to face - environmental degradation, immigration, education, employment and the effects of the pandemic on daily life to name a few. My approach is broad, but has a tendency to zoom in on the experience of youth and how they have been affected by the past two years, the myriad decisions in which they have had no say, and their dwindling opportunities and options as they enter into adulthood.

Matthew Reamer, Obscura Community Commission.
Matthew Reamer, Obscura Community Commission.

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