“Kinsey” is an ongoing series of hand-pulled photo etchings and photographs made at an abandoned, pre-Prohibition whiskey distillery and industrial warehouse park. The sight lies within a 10-mile emergency planning zone of the Limerick Nuclear Generation Facility in Limerick, Pennsylvania. I’m drawn to the dichotomy of the century-old, bygone facilities, and those relentlessly churning in the immediate distance.
The industrial park, with all its ephemeral detail of desertion, has intimations of destruction, chaos and ominous occurrences. From decaying rooftops, Limerick’s cooling towers are seen billowing out steam over old neighborhoods and new suburban developments. Imagination turns frail upon such viewing from the grounds of ruin.
Historically, I choose to understand little about the environment’s transitions and decline. Instead, I’m acting on a consciousness taunted by harrowing evidence of neglect to form images from foreboding thoughts. In that sense, Kinsey has little to do with documenting a place, and more with illustrating human anxiety in the wake of intangible record, hypothetical detritus, and utilities as far reaching as apocalyptic possibility.
Michael Ast (b. 1973) resides in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, situated between Philadelphia and New York City. He has worked professionally as both a photojournalist and commercial photographer, been exhibited internationally, and published in numerous publications, including album covers, most notably on songwriter/ rocker Kurt Vile’s critically acclaimed album “Smoke Rings for My Halo” (Matador Records). Michael is interested in photographic narrative, utilizing a mixture of self-expression and photo documentation. Viewers can easily see such approach in his published photobooks and photographic series he’s been making. In 2014, he self-published his first book “Trying to Find the Ocean”, and in late 2016 “a musing from the rocking dock” was published by The Unknown Books (Portugal). In both publications, Michael incorporates an intense outward gaze on the environments and inhabitants he explores, and an inward gaze, employing images to function esoterically as emotive and cognitive intimations.
Michael has been experimenting lately with printmaking, expanding his photographic output through the intaglio etching process. The laborious, but meditative process of making photo etchings has drastically changed his approach to photographing the places and people in his explored surroundings.
At present, Michael is formulating zines that will combine his black and white photos, color photography, and etching reproductions. In all his work, one can expect an experiential cohesion with his established instinct and visceral gaze.