Q&A: David Rothenberg


Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? When in doubt, order the hamburger. Also, I’m working on being more compassionate. What will baffle future generations about our day and age? Our unabashed self-destructive greed. Are you aware of any conspiracies? The Reptilian agenda seems to have been met by very little resistance. What is it that interests you about photography? Having permission/ an excuse  to look. I’m  working on a project right now with clearly defined subject matter but typically my default mode is to use the camera to rummage the city for pictures. What is the worst thing about city life? Traffic, insane drivers, no parking… so cars are the worst thing. What part of the planet would you like to explore? Not very exotic but I want to spend some more time in Germany. I’ve romanticized the places where my grandparents grew up and need to get that nostalgia out of my system. What do you think is the most plausible of the supernatural? ESP. If you had to align yourself with a leader in history, who would it be? This is one is a can of worms. John Muir seems to be A-OK. Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Ornithology. What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? The 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics… some of my earliest and really strange memories. Choose a job you would be willing to do for free on the side. Garage band musician. Describe the most important photo you’ve seen. “Child with Toy Hand Grenade In Central Park”  by  Diane Arbus found me at the right time. I probably said “duudde fuucck” the first time i saw it as a teenager.

How often do you take other people’s advice? I’ve got some good advisers, so I take it. Describe a personal hell. Origami. Which living person do you most admire? My wife, Kate. On what occasion do you lie? Truth is mighty. What was the last crime you witnessed? My two year old stole a bag of Skittles from a gas station and threw it in the garbage. What is the best way to educate yourself? Be around many different types of people. What is the next book you want to read? Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. Ultimate camera? Compact medium format digital camera with a fixed lens. Most used camera? Sony A7rII. What object do you want? Intellectual-looking glasses. What object do you need? Warm puffy jacket. How would you explain the internet to someone from the 1950’s? I’d start with the dirty pictures. Are you satisfied with your level of physical strength? I’m finally coming to terms with my explosive power. Describe a cheap thrill. Wiffle Ball. Pick an historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. Moon landing. Are impulses more important than consequences? No. Which talent would you most like to have? Speak more languages. What is your plan for the next 24 hours? Print! Get the pictures off the screen.

Covered Tracks (2015-17) is a series of photographs made while walking through neighborhoods connected by the 7 train line in Queens, NY. The 7 train cuts through the most culturally diverse neighborhoods in the United States, neighborhoods that are representations of transient lives as new immigrants merge languages, cultures, and daily lives creating a layered density. The neighborhoods and sites that flank the 7 train are often considered peripheral, and contain an ever shifting landscape of objects, and situations to which I’ve been drawn. These sites have provided a fertile landscape to photograph that is simultaneously realist and abstract, as cultural identities merge and new meaning is inscribed.

David Rothenberg (b. 1981, lives and works in New York) is a visual artist and an adjunct professor of photography at The City University of New York. Education: MFA in Photography from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. BFA in Photography from Parsons School of Design. His video installations and photo based works have been exhibited throughout North America, in Germany, and the UK. To see more David’s work visit — Website / Instagram.