Lisa Stefanelli, Oculus Path, 2019

Lisa Stefanelli, Crowd Pleaser Series: Oculus Path, 2019, digitally aided material printed on aluminum with floating mount; 30 x 45 in.

Lisa Stefanelli’s Oculus Path presents a bird’s-eye view of the Oculus Transportation Hub at the rebuilt World Trade Center site: commuters hurry in all directions over the gridded white marble floor. Part of her Crowd Pleaser series, the altered photograph chillingly ponders the aftermath of 9/11 and living in a climate of fear. Stefanelli directed photography of the public space, later altering it in Photoshop.

Assuming each person carries something small and precious within them, as a reliquary carries pieces of saints, Stefanelli doesn’t founder over what that small thing might be; rather, she imagines preoccupied strangers tethered together by random bars of color. Oculus Path balances the need for privacy and anonymity against excessive loneliness and alienation by bridging individuals with modernist rectangles à la face recognition technology. The work respects the totality of the body, it does not zoom in on faces, it is not concerned with any purpose of identity or verification: it pauses surveillance to advocate sharing.

Part of Passing Bittersweet, a 2020 exhibition at the Williams Center Gallery. Find more of Lisa Stefanelli’s work on her website.