Craig’s’ Emporium

The work of Craig S. Feder.
I approach Craig’s imagery with a good portion of formal tolerance. That isn’t in
anyway an attempt to enter a dialogue with his pictures looking for a side exit; I
simply find it necessary in order to see the paradoxical qualities inherent in the
informalalities of his technique.
There seems to be a rather predatorial approach to the way he advances on some
of his subjects while at other times, (and these are the moments when it seems
most serendipitous and hence engaging for this viewer), he stumbles upon a
moment that creates fortuitous content and utilizes the cropping tool to make it
seem intentional.
Make no mistake, this guy is talented and caresses my sensibilities and exposes
my desires and prejudices quite well. In fact I think it is in light of his rogue
modus operandi that he exploits some of the most hysterical yet horrifying,
titillating, moving and exasperating images that I’ve ever seen from a dude with a
job in such a monolithic iconoclastic museum on 5th Avenue.
Coincidently as in the case with the Austrian artist Deborah Sengl, who was
featured in the prior edition of R-Town Extended here last week in The New York
Optimist, issues of camouflage and adornment in the attempt to disguise and
metamorphose run conspicuously parallel to Craig’s Metropolis. Extracted from
the 100s of jpegs that were sent to me are what I would describe as delinquent
heroes of urban fairytales, loiterers of fairgrounds, side-job, self endorsed
actors/models, some impressive street dancers and a few handicapped citizens
with more to them than seemingly apparent.
For instance, just try towing your boy friend in a manual wheel chair while you’re
in your motorized edition along 8th Avenue in route to apply for another extension
of MedicAde benefits. Or the image of what it may be like to start ones’ day
making sure it begins with the right of passage for every New Yorker, a 16oz cup
of coffee with lots of sugar in tow only to drop it because you’re coming out of
“the shelter” and you can’t keep your belongings there so they come too. These
are just a few images of courage and insistence running rampant in Craig’s
Emporium.
An interesting irony in some of the imagery is that Craig may well be attracted to
some of his subjects who are sheath in tattoos and just happened to be spotted
hanging out at a “hot spot” or are found in “vogue” in the park seemingly
“Camera Craig” ready. Yet and perhaps this is what is most interesting for me, is
that the object of his craving at times ends up the target of his derision seemingly
unbeknownst to himself. It’s as if he is uncovering spies among us and the
unveiling of their cover may prove fatal in this hyperbole of cool. Yet these are
cute girls and I myself am pleased that these spies’s were dispatched from Middle
America and points east if for nothing else but to make the radius of the space
they occupy more tolerable.
Not all fall in scorn through the view finder of his camera. Take for another
instance the images of the Cobble Street Dance Posse at the base of the
Manhattan Bridge on the Williamsburg side that imbues such a sense of solidarity
and conviction it can only stem from the eye and sensitivity of Craig’s
respect for dance and the wealth of the region to produce such power and the
inspiration to perform.
At the end of the day, I confess (like a decadent necessity) that I can’t get enough
of his stuff that goes well beyond some of the Bubble Gum Chick Licking Lollie
Pop imagery that appears in this article. I mean this Princeton grad has a good
job, is married and cares for his son. And in the course of his gaining sustenance
for his spiritual survival we are the plenty and the fortunate for his aspirations.
I like Craig’s NY, a lot! I’m from there and this is where I met him when he was
in real estate some 20 years ago. Its big and so full of “US” that even regions
seemingly outside it’s boarders carry the torch in the attempt to belong, escape,
disguise, acquire and re-invent and is so clearly illustrated and effervescent in Mr.
Feder’s portrayals.
Sometimes Craig you surprise me at other times you annoy me and once in awhile
you make me proud to be a New Yorker in Wien.


Alexander Viscio
Curator Alexander Viscio
Black & Whites
The New York Optimist
February 2009