cover image Chicagoland: Illusions of the Literal

Chicagoland: Illusions of the Literal

Steve Gubin. Cyanatic Images, $64.99 (134p) ISBN 978-0-6923399-4-7

This quietly evocative book captures the energy, diversity, and soul of Chicago in more than 100 black-and-white photographs taken during a six-year period beginning in 2008. Gubin, a fine-art and documentary photographer, says street photography captures a moment in time, yet it’s also an illusion of that specific moment and open to interpretation—“paradoxically both a fact and a fiction.” His goal is to reveal “a subtle sense of mystery and surrealism, odd frozen moments of uneasy ambiguity and whimsicality.” Photographs of stern-faced pedestrians and graffiti exude a gritty, urban vibe, commingling with blurred images that convey artistic purity with no easily accessible story line. Gubin speaks beautifully to mood with a stunning, romantic night shot of an isolated street during a snowstorm, and weather-driven images of bundled-up walkers in the snow (he calls one “Chicago Gulag”). Photographs of pedestrians, dog-walkers, and Lake Michigan swimmers capture the everyday rhythm of life. Interspersed throughout the book are crisp, textural images, showing the ordinary and showcasing the magnificent: a crisp, extended shot of an elevated train station; an industrial block lined with shadows; a cracked sidewalk from above; an alley; the reflective Cloud Gate sculpture, thronged with visitors; and Louis Sullivan’s gorgeous ironwork ornamentation. Gubin’s images are the narrative in this story of everyman’s Chicago. (BookLife)