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My friend Cris Lara with his copy of YONKEROS. On the day we met, he was taking advantage of a coffee break to explain the complexities of the American involvement in Irak to a small crew of mechanics. I remember him drawing charts and diagrams onto dusty windshields and patiently answering questions. I felt a great affinity to him as he held forth in his makeshift classroom.

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Mi amigo Cris Lara con su copia de YONKEROS. Recuerdo el día que nos conocimos y visite su taller. Aprovechando un descanso para tomar cafe con sus mecánicos, Cris comenzó a explicarles las razones por las que USA se involucró en una guerra con Irak. Al verlo dibujando diagramas en los vidrios polvorientos de los carros y contestando preguntas sentí inmediatamente una gran simpatía y afinidad por su persona.

Book Signing: Jaime Permuth's Yonkeros

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Guatemalan photographer Jaime Permuth stops by the ICP Store this Friday, April 12, for a signing of his book Yonkeros.

Yonkeros documents “The Iron Triangle”: Willets Point, a small and often overlooked enclave of New York City that is home to junkyards and scrap metal businesses. Permuth’s beautiful black-and-white photographs highlight local workers and their tools and materials.

Permuth’s photographs have been shown at several venues in New York City, including The Museum of Modern Art, The Queens Museum of Art, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, The Museum of the City of New York, The Jewish Museum, El Museo del Barrio, and The Brooklyn Museum of Art. He has also exhibited internationally at the Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno in Guatemala, Casa del Lago in Mexico City, and the Israeli Parliament.

Permuth is a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts where he teaches in the Master of Professional Studies in Digital Photography program.

The YONKEROS exhibition at Ryugaheon Gallery marked my fifth trip to Seoul in as many years.  The gallery itself is known to photographers but not always to a larger audience.  It sits tucked away in a little alley that is reached after a fairly labyrinthine walk through the back streets behind the old Imperial Palace.

When you arrive, you enter into a tiny zen garden with gravel underfoot and rough hewn wooden benches.  Built in the traditional hannok style, the gallery itself feels more like a modest temple or a forest shrine than an art space per se.  Clusters of tiny yellow flowers sprout here and there on its tiled roof.  On one side of the garden is a bookstore and café.  Beyond that, there’s an office and a workshop.  On the other is the entrance to the exhibition area.

Having this show in Seoul changed my relationship with the city in an essential way.  It’s hard to describe the feeling of belonging that comes from having your photographs on display and being able to bring friends to visit day after day.  It’s like welcoming them into your house.  As if you’ve set up residence there.  Not only that, but friends bring friends and -before you know it- your circle has expanded dramatically to include all kinds of interesting people.

But of course, the greatest pleasure is seeing the work in a new context and hearing back from local audiences.  It was a long journey indeed for the Latin American mechanics to make: not only from Willets Point -but from their countries of origin.  Perhaps because of Korea’s Buddhist roots, many people remarked on the passing of the seasons in these photographs and the way the light and the elements redefined the landscape depending on the time of the year.  Others compared Willets Point to neighborhoods in Seoul, which have –or perhaps more interestingly once had- a similar feel.  One particularly perceptive man noted that the passing of the seasons underscored the useful life of machines and how everything in the world has a cyclical duration.

On two separate occasions, my mother in law organized a large group of friends to come and visit the exhibition.  I especially enjoyed these visits because the ladies dressed up in their finest and made a day out of it.  They really enjoyed themselves.  And as such, they lingered, spoke from the heart and felt free to reminisce.  One woman responded to an image of a small stack of tires covered in snow with a childhood memory of her own, remembering the large earthenware jars of kimchi sitting in her mother’s yard during the winter months.  Hearing that was a modest epiphany; I felt like the image had translated beautifully and poetically in a most unexpected manner.

Dear Friends,

As we turn the page on the year that ends, I am thankful for all that came about in its succession of months
and seasons. As we prepare to welcome the year ahead, I want to express my appreciation to each and every one
of you for making it possible to live in a world which welcomes artists with open arms.

Best wishes for the Holidays and looking forward to 2014!

Jaime


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Estimados amigos,

En estos días en que se escriben las últimas páginas del año, estoy tan agradecido por lo mucho que aconteció en los meses y estaciones precedentes. Al prepararnos para recibir el año que comienza, quisiera expresar mi gran aprecio por cada uno de ustedes, quienes hacen posible un mundo que ve con bien a los artistas y los recibe con los brazos abiertos.

Esperando verlos pronto nuevamente y deseándoles todo lo mejor en el 2014!

Jaime

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This week 300 copies of my first monograph YONKEROS were shipped to me in Harlem.  1700 more copies are fanning out across the globe and hit stores in Europe, Australia, Asia, India, Africa, Latin America and the USA starting March 31st!

Books are already available on pre-order from the DAP Catalogue:

http://www.artbook.com/9788415303930.html

A dream come true!

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