666 Fifth Avenue, 2019

Starting at 666 Fifth Avenue, we follow Zahid Jiwa as he continues his romantic landscaping through the dark side of Manhattan as part of an ongoing exploration of themes filled with figures that are hard to identify and unclear cultural references. The results are a series of razor sharp, harshly lit photographs that one might find hanging in a law office or brokerage firm, perhaps taken by a crooked attorney or ex- rogue Wall Street trader, not sure what exactly they’re looking for or where they’re going, paranoid, unable to shake off the feeling of being followed. These photographs are presented in the form of an interchangeable, cult like narrative and give way to a starkly mysterious and late-modern experience, one where Jiwa is able to create a world of urban science fiction where bodies of work seem deliberately unfinished due to the fact that they are always connecting and intersecting.

An out of focus Lamborghini’s custom paint job drifts away into the lukewarm bathwater of a luxurious penthouse overlooking the park. Then, a photogenic limousine idles coldly outside a Nouvelle Chinese restaurant. This a crime scene. This is the setting for some sort of unenlightened gathering. Does this exquisite corroded marble fountain exist inside the restaurant or does it actually exist within the limousine itself? What similarities does this bathing black monolith share with the faceless, backlit stockbroker? Traces of blood are splattered throughout, most notably on the iconographic brushed steel underground entranceway to 666 Fifth Avenue. In one photograph, aptly titled “Oasis & Sewer” a young girl interacts with an alligator in some sort of artificial environment.

Dramatic simplification of form provides a sense of calmness with underlying tension, which appears to be an ongoing symbolic motif lurking ominously behind the stained red curtain of Jiwa’s ongoing cinematic narrative. 

Dean Kissick

Zahid Jiwa (b. 1984) is a photographer and filmmaker based in Montréal, Quebec.

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