Paul Damato

" For the three years I lived in Chicago, from 1985 to 1988, my way of making pictures was to pile into my Dodge Dart and drive around the city with my camera looking for anything worth getting out of the car for or, more importantly, anything worth returning to. I was fishing and Chicago was an ocean of potential photographs. The Summer of 1988, I accepted a teaching position at the Maine College of Art and, a few weeks before leaving, I made what I thought would be my last photographic excursion. I drove all the way down Halsted from the North-side to 18th street and took a right turn. It was the heart of a neighborhood I later learned was called Pilsen, an odd name, I thought, for a Mexican community. I’ve been coming back ever since. Though I loved my time in Maine, it was difficult photographing there. It became clear after looking at my contact sheets from the summer before, discovering pictures like “Girl with Lingerie Catalogue” (frontispiece), that my interest in making pictures was deeply rooted in some kind of urban experience. The day school ended, I headed back to Chicago for the summer. Thirteen years straight I left Maine (just when all the tourists were arriving from Boston and New York) for a sweltering, tree-less neighborhood made of concrete, bricks, and asphalt – a place that stayed hot well after the sun set and was relieved only when someone illegally opened a pump, borrowed a piece of the lake and flooded the street. I loved every minute and worked day and night knowing it would be a year before I could come back. Just about all of my time was spent in the neighborhood of Pilsen, occasionally in Little Village just to the west and, once in a while, in Back of the Yards further south. During the time I photographed here, I kept a journal. I was never particularly disciplined about it, most often writing in the cracks between making pictures and sleeping, and only when I felt like it. I recently reread these journals and discovered that what I wrote about – sequences of events, dialogue, anecdotes, or about photography in general – were things my pictures didn’t describe. It was as if the photographs and the writing described separate but parallel realities, the life in front of the camera versus the life behind it. Like the pictures, I edited the writing to offer a sequence of moving verbal pictures to go with the non-moving visual ones."

"For a loser now, will be later to win" - called me Tapsa, it is my Finnish name, but I am a Vietnamese guy, who are living in Seoul at the moment. Follow me on Instagram @tapsamai
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