Building Boxes

These pictures were made during a five day, 500 mile bike ride from Kansas City to Chicago. I was part of a 25 person group working to raise funds for PeopleForBikes, an organization that makes riding better for everyone by connecting with decision makers at the local, state, and federal level. 

I knew from the moment I accepted my invitation that I wanted to shoot a project during this ride, but I didn’t know exactly what it would be. I wanted to create a body of work that captured the feeling of being on a bike, without showing any bikes. So I found a compact camera with a fixed lens that I could ride with easily, flew to Kansas City, and kept an open mind -- waiting and watching for the idea that I could pursue.

While our route to Chicago consisted entirely of side roads and bike paths, our days were mostly spent flying along at 20-25mph as a compact, efficient group in rows of two.  There was no way I could stop to shoot along the way and manage to stay with the group — it was moving too fast. I spent the first few hours of the journey wondering if I’d get to shoot anything at all between Kansas City and Chicago.

However, every few hours we’d stop for food and water. I found myself with a few minutes to get off my bike, and shoot whatever was there, before having to eat, drink and roll out for another few hours.  After the first few stops, the structure of the project became very clear, as I had to accept that where we stopped was out of my control.

Five days and 500 miles later, I was exhausted both physically and creatively.  But I had built a body of work that was connected visually, conceptually, and geographically.  

A photographer I know likes to talk about art projects as if they are built boxes, where the parameters for a project are what determine the proper size and shape of the box. Ideally the box design strikes a balance — small enough to be uncomfortable, but big enough to have room to make work. When the box is ready, you climb inside, and stay inside until you’ve filled it up.

I loved this project because a very neat little box was practically built for me. Once I recognized it, all I had to do was climb in and start filling it. 

Limited edition prints from The Distance Between Two Points Is are available to view and purchase at JK Editions.  20% of every sale goes directly to PeopleForBikes to help make riding better for everyone.

Jamie KripkeComment