Artist StatementFlying through the city on my single-speed road bike, I search for my next shot. The digital SLR rides safely within my courier bag as I weave in and out of the gridlocked traffic. My legs, pumping like pistons, propel me through the urban landscape; my thoughts synchronize with my movements atop the steel-framed bicycle. Sustained pedaling creates a gentle rhythm, which parallels that of my breathing, that of my heart. I am one with the city. Cycling is the best way to explore the city. You can navigate the urban environment more efficiently this way. You move at the right pace, neither too fast nor too slow, without taking up much space or contributing to air and noise pollution. You are able to observe things motorists miss. Being inside a car–windows up, AC and radio on–cuts you off from the world. And while walking is great, you can cover more ground on a bike. Riding a bicycle is the perfect synthesis of human being and machine. The camera is also a machine, the optics of which simulate the functions of the human eye. Like riding a bicycle, photography exists between two poles, in this case that of the handmade expressiveness of painting and the rapid-fire sequence of moving pictures. Photography, born from the history of painting, is situated between the Old World modes of picture production and modern film and video. Just as riding a bicycle is the best way for exploring it, photography is the best means to communicate my ideas about the ever-changing city. The city through which I ride is a massive work of art. I am fascinated by the spectacle of it all, overwhelmed by its intensity. No single image can capture its complexity. This is why I take multiple shots–usually of disparate square forms or buildings under construction–and reconfigure them into photomontages. The Square Project consists of site-specific square-sets arranged into a grid format, recalling the gridiron street layouts in which they were found. My Constructions are cubist-like compositions of buildings at different phases of their construction.
Dereck Stafford Mangus is a Baltimore-based artist and writer. He currently works at The Baltimore Museum of Art, where he is regularly inspired by the permanent collections and special exhibitions. His review, “Jack Whitten, ‘Odyssey: Jack Whitten Sculpture, 1963–2017,’” was selected as the winner of the Frieze Writer’s Prize 2018. Mangus finds inspiration in the bulit environment, which informs his work.