Brooklyn based photographer Fred Cray has gone to significant lengths to fully explore himself. For his self-portraits series he has set himself on fire, eaten dirt and covered himself with tar.
As an artist he's continually wandering the boroughs of New York City, exploring the hidden streets and lesser-known margins of the map, searching for meaningful frames as they appear at that moment. Combine that approach with Cray’s use of found imagery and the distorted long exposed frames that he shoots from his computer screen and the end result is usually a dreamy, ambiguous scene of the multi-layered world around him.
Fred is a graduate of the Yale Graduate School of Painting and his work has been exhibited at a number of diverse spaces that include White Columns, The Brooklyn Museum, New Museum, The George Eastman House and many other exhibits and shows around the world. He is represented by the Janet Borden Gallery in New York.
Sigmar Polke - "Polke is a painter but he does weird things with photos. I tend to like people who push the boundary in interesting ways. He has those dark photos of the dogs and bears fighting in Afghanistan. People always tell me there's too much darkness in my own work, but that's where I find meaning."
Thomas Ruff - "I really like his work. It's good to look at in book form. If you contrast that with Gursky it's interesting. Scaled down to book form, a lot of Gursky isn't as interesting as other people."
Lee Friedlander, Tina Barney & Jan Groover - "If you want to see current work that will end up in the history of photography go to Janet Borden's Gallery and see amazing photography by these three people."
"For my own work I like to play with and shoot frames from movies off my screen. Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz is one of the films that's inspired me."
George Tillman Jr. - "Tillman is a director whose films I like to distort frames from. I just photographed Notorious last week and some things turned out somewhat interesting. Plus, that movie provoked some interesting feelings."
Martin Scorsese - "I've been going through some earlier Scorsese films which are great to go through again. Raging Bull is visually amazing and provided a few interesting images for my installation project."
Disney Films - "Disney films are interesting to photograph. Some are so well made, though the plots aren't always to my interest. I probably can't even talk about that without their legal team knocking on my door."
WRITERS & BLOGGERS
William Faulkner - "Faulkner wanders everywhere. He's a mad genius that gets to the core of humanity."
James Danziger - "I really like his blog but I only go there once or twice a year. It's like major traveling to go there."
Gabriel Garcia Marquez - "I was a literature major in college and I use a lot of literary references in my work. The series of portraits where I'm eating dirt comes from Marquez who has a character that eats dirt."
LOOKING AT ART
Janet Borden Gallery - "She's my gallerist and it's a comfortable size gallery. She has hall of famers and she knows her stuff. All the photo people know and respect her and she's been a big supporter of mine despite the fact that my work is hard to sell."
International Center of Photography - "ICP probably has the best selection of books in the city. It's not that inviting but if I want to see photo titles that I won't see anywhere else I go there. It's too bad they don't have a better space to sit and browse, but I'm sure if they did, they'd lose a lot more books and have some damaged."
Brooklyn Academy of Music - "The performance artists who put on work at BAM are among my favorite things about the city. I'm really going to miss seeing Pina Bausch. BAM has done a lot for this city."
The Brooklyn Museum - "I like the Brooklyn Museum, but it could do a lot more. It's fighting its history. It's struggling because it doesn't have the money or cache like other museums. They do a lot of good shows once in a while, but not often enough. Sometimes it just feels too tired, and sometimes I love that tiredness."
Pierogi 2000 Gallery- "Pierogi Gallery in Brooklyn is fairly democratic in certain ways. They have good solo shows besides the Flat Files, which are a great idea."
The Boiler Room Space - "The Boiler Space that the Pierogi Gallery opened is one of the new gems in New York City."
The Coney Island Museum - "The Coney Island Museum brings up old memories of New York, when people still vacationed by the Brooklyn seaside. There's a darkness that they conjure from the past."
David Zwirner Gallery & Marian Goodman Gallery - "These galleries have great shows, exhibit in and exhibit out. Despite being blue chip, they show work that transcends trends, takes chances, or hits a solid home run. If one needs to pick up from good art, it can almost always be found just by walking into one of their spaces."
The Metropolitan Museum of Art - "The Met always has some temporary exhibit that can knock one's socks off. There's always a bunch of works in their permanent collection that function like old friends - there no matter what, providing comfort. There's some of the best stuff in the world and one can just walk in and look at it almost any day of the year."
The Museum of Modern Art - "I always go back and forth between feeling like photography just doesn't quite provide enough sometimes, so here I can dart in and out and see some photos then go see some paintings. MoMA doesn't quite integrate photography and contemporary art as well as the new addition of the Art Institute in Chicago, but they have a really good permanent collection for times when I want to feel grounded in the medium. They have a decent bookstore and the artist's membership, which I really like because I can just walk in, show my card and look at art briefly then leave. Then I can do the same thing the next day. It makes going to the museum not a big deal."
Brighton Beach - "It's crazy to see all those cyrillic letters all over Brighton Beach. Have a snack of Russian food, enjoy the beach then walk Coney Island Avenue."
Sunset Park - "Sunset Park is a culturally diverse neighborhood. On one avenue you have Brooklyn's Chinatown and two avenues down you have Brooklyn's major Mexican thoroughfare with some great taquerias. For $4 one can have an amazing meal."
Greenwood Heights - "According to realtors, this is the neighborhood I live in. What I love best about it is its diversity. It's still a family neighborhood with a good new energy coming in. It's ethnically mixed without trying. The cemetery is a great place to walk and has an amazing range of trees. There are still a few 99 cents stores that haven't been priced out by the new bars coming in."
AROUND THE CITY
Snug Harbor - "Staten Island's Snug Harbor is kind of a secret. It's fun to ride to the Staten Island Railroad there using a metro card."
South Street Seaport Beach - "What's interesting is that there's a small strip of beach just above the old Fulton Fish Market."
Al Di La Trattoria- "Al di La in Park Slope has consistently great food. The pasta is to die for, especially with clams. The pork is always fabulous. I eat here every other week at least. It's my favorite restaurant in New York. Fairly priced and finish with the homemade ice cream trio of the affagato. If I were offered a last meal, it might be a regular meal from here. No real attitude and sometimes one feels an actual appreciation towards the customers from the owner. How rare in New York? It's sometimes a disaster that they don't take reservations."
The Strand - "The Strand is just a great New York Institution. They have a ton of books. One can look at photo books, art books and cookbooks for recipes. I've also hid a bunch of my own photos in books there."