Rodrigo Valenzuela points to the only old beautiful brick building that still stands in the surrounding block adjacent to the intersection at Denny Way and Pontius Avenue North.
“This place doesn't exist as people remember it years ago,” he says.
Like much of Seattle, the Cascade neighborhood where we are standing has transformed in the last few years with new building construction. The empty lot on this block will continue to change, and by next spring will become an electrical substation for Seattle City Light. For now, the ALL RISE project fills the lot with temporary art installations and performances by different artists.
Valenzuela has just mounted the latest installation, a series of black and white landscapes that cover the outer fence. He has titled the work “Flat Lands.”
Valenzuela, 32, has been based in Seattle since going to the University of Washington in 2010 to get his master's. He's known for his large constructed landscapes, often stitching together multiple negatives that were taken in different locations, including his home country, Chile. Though, the method of how he created the images doesn’t really matter for this project, Valenzuela says.
“It’s more about letting the audience make whatever they want out of it.”
Valenzuela is hoping people who pass by will engage with the photos beyond viewing them from the sidewalk; whether it's taking pictures with them or touching them, he welcomes all interactions. He points out that like the buildings in the neighborhood, these photos are not going to exist for very long, and will only be remembered as long as people document them.
“It's kind of a metaphor of the neighborhood because they're going to get destroyed quickly,” says Valenzuela. The landscapes, which now in a sense look as out of place as the old brick building, can be seen as a reminder for places that can be damaged and lost if they don't belong to you.
“The photos are going to be a backdrop for people just as much as these buildings.”
To see more of Valenzuela's work you can go to his website.