Prospect Park stretches across 585 acres at the heart of Brooklyn, New York. Designed by Frederick Olmsted in 1867 as one of America’s first democratic parks, it was envisioned as a space for citizens of every social class and background. My ongoing series In Plain Air is photographed from deep within the park, where signs of the city and its thankless daily grind are farthest out of sight. These photographs look at an urban oasis that invites its visitors to a profound, however brief, commune with nature and a momentary release from the demands of contemporary life that’s teeming at the gates. I am drawn to private moments of transcendence and escape within the context of a shared public space. This is an imperfect nature, tattered from overuse, and yet it is a landscape activated by collective reverie and desire. As the light reflects from the lake, the surroundings are instantaneously transformed to echo distant places, disorienting and beguiling, transporting one to a powerful landscape of the mind.

I see Prospect Park as a kind of gritty paradise where fundamental American ideals have materialized but appear like a mirage: a complex social reality played out upon a shared, historic stage that is illusory, and even fantastical (like any vision of paradise). As American esteem and spirit are put to a test, the images in this series hope to contemplate and reaffirm our sense of a common, living place and time.

–Irina Rozovsky

Irina Rozovsky (b. 1981, Moscow) studied French and Spanish literature as an undergraduate at Tufts University and received an MFA in photography from Massachusetts College of Art. Her work has been featured in numerous national and international exhibitions and publications, including 25 under 25: Up and Coming American Photographers; 31 Women in Art Photography; Exposure at the PRC, the Magnum Expression Award, and many more. Her recently published monograph One to Nothing was named a Selected Title of the German Photo Book Award and featured on photeye Magazine’s and Alec Soth’s Top 20 Photo Books of 2011 lists. Irina lives in Brooklyn, NY and teaches at the International Center of Photography.