The New York World’s Fair, with its “World of Tomorrow” theme, inspired a legacy of cultural references, from the 1941 film Mr. and Mrs. Smith, to Charlie Chan’s film Murder over New York, to an essay by E.B. White. For urban planners, the Futurama exhibit by General Motors introduced Americans to the idea of the expressway system, which would then dominate city and regional planning for the next 60 years.
Photographer and teacher Walter Plotnick has been melding images of the 1939 World’s Fair with 1930s circus performers, using a hybrid of wet photography and digital processes. He’s inspired by photographers of the Bauhaus and Constructivist movements, lending a Surrealist influence juxtaposed against familiar vintage imagery of culture and commerce.
Plotnick has launched a Kickstarter to finance a solo exhibition of his work in Belgium, he’s about 40% there with 11 days to go. Supporting the Kickstarter campaign gets you prints, posters, buttons and bookmarks.
On the surface, these are two disparate themes. But for me, the commonality is humanity striving to reach its potential. The 1939 New York World’s Fair presented this on a grand stage, showing what was possible with technology, the right vision and will. Engaging science, art, commerce, and government in an inspiring display of imagination. The circus performers, working with little or no technology, took us to the outer limits of skill and performance using only the human body. Together, they offer us a thrilling picture of our own potential when we have the courage to take a leap of faith.