a moment

Portraits from "A Moment, A Memory." 

“A Moment, A Memory,” a new photography exhibition at The Silver Room, features a series of candid portraits taken by Jansen Bridge, a 38-year-old Florida native who said that he wanted to capture the essence of those he feels “add more value to the city than they take.”

“I wanted to memorialize, and that's where the idea of this style comes from. It’s taking a style that has been traditionally used to memorialize the old, rich and powerful. I have applied that to my peers to kind of memorialize them for the value they're adding to our city,” said Bridge. 

Instructions that were given to each photo subject are on display as part of the exhibit. The extensive rules include wearing earth tones, wearing little to no makeup and reminding the subject that the point of the photos is to establish a connection and to capture who they are in that moment of time.

Asked why he felt adding the instructions to the exhibit was essential, Bridge said, “I think it explains the images, that we're not trying to take just a pretty picture. We're trying to capture this moment in someone's life and part of that is getting the person to understand what moment they were living in.”

Bridge said he spent at least an hour talking with each subject before he began shooting them, a tactic he said opens the person up and allows for them to be as vulnerable as possible — making for a moment that isn’t defined by beauty.

“I don't want people to look at these images and just think they're just supposed to be beautiful images. I feel like on social media, we're used to seeing these perfect images, a lot of the time. I don't choose the best image per se. I try to choose the one that has the connection that I felt in the studio.”

Part of the photographic process includes playing songs for the subject that have been significant in Bridge’s life, including ones by Major Lazer, Drama, Jonah Yano, Kindness and Charity Croff.

“Essentially, all the songs on there that are chosen are songs that have been very influential and impactful in my life,” he said. “The intention of making people listen to those and asking them to find themselves in the song is to help us find that common ground.”

Establishing himself as a photographer in Chicago, Bridge said he came to the city around eight years ago from Gainesville, Florida, a few years after his grandfather who raised him passed away. Being raised in a nontraditional household, Bridge said he doesn’t have many strong memories from growing up or even many childhood pictures, but has found solace in the community around him.

“A Moment, A Memory” is Bridge’s first exhibit. It came about when a friend told him about the Silver Room looking for artists for a show. After submitting his application in the winter of 2021, Jansen said he didn’t hear back for a while but received good news after running into Silver Room owner Eric Williams at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

“I kind of asked him if they had picked or chosen someone for that and that I submitted my images. I don't know if he went back and said something, but a week later they reached out.”

Bridge said the turnaround time for the exhibit was two weeks, but really about 9 days because of his busy schedule. The deadline ran a bit tight, as shipping issues meant some prints and frames came in as late as three hours before the opening reception. 

Although he felt rushed, Bridge said he is happy how the event turned out, even if he is bashful about being the center of attention. “I feel like I do a lot behind the scenes and am not used to being on display. So it was a pretty vulnerable position for me to be in.”

“A Moment, A Memory” will be on display at The Silver Room, 1506 E. 53rd St., until May 15. 

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