Michael Vahrenwald

Michael Vahrenwald is a photographer born in Davenport, Iowa. He presently lives in New York City. His work has been shown at a variety of venues including the Whitney Museum, The Walker Art Center, The Carnegie Museum of Art, the Yale School of Architecture and the Nerman Museum.

He studied fine art at The Cooper Union and Photography at Yale University. Today we take a look at his series titled, The People’s Trust.

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Detroit Savings Bank, Detroit, MI 2012

First national Bank, Wilkes Barre, PA 2013

First national Bank, Wilkes Barre, PA 2013

Metropolitan Savings Bank, New York, NY 2013

Metropolitan Savings Bank, New York, NY 2013

The People’s Trust

“The People’s Trust” is a series of photographs that document financial institutions across America, from the remains of grand, re-purposed 20th and 19th century structures to modernist glass structures to the financial institutions of today. The current selection looks at re-purposed and defunct financial institutions.

This project begins in Wall Street and gravitates outward through Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, Upper Manhattan and across the United States.

The Project proposes that we can derive information about our culture and it’s present values through looking at the structures that host our financial transactions and their legacies.

Lincoln Savings Bank, Brooklyn, NY 2011

Lincoln Savings Bank, Brooklyn, NY 2011

New York County National Bank, New York, NY 2012

New York County National Bank, New York, NY 2012

I am drawn to former bank buildings because of what they tell about our culture, past and of the present— much of it looks to a time when money was more local, banks spread out & anchoring individual communities, thousands of solid stone structures in the place of a handful of glass skyscrapers downtowns across the globe.

As I began photographing I couldn’t help but register the headstrong optimism in these buildings, the grandiose way in which they were fortresses built to last— all that in contradistinction to what they’re used for now. It fascinates me, that in their current state, these structures still project so much of their former authority.

The project’s not about what I like or don’t like, but about the how odd these building are today in a world where the aesthetics (as well as the simple facts) of power, wealth, & class have all fundamentally changed.

Prudential Savings Bank, Brooklyn, NY 2012

Prudential Savings Bank, Brooklyn, NY 2012

S.Jarmulosky’s Bank, New York, NY 2011

S.Jarmulosky’s Bank, New York, NY 2011

The First National City Bank of New York, New York, NY 2011

The First National City Bank of New York, New York, NY 2011

The Peoples State Bank, Detroit, MI 2012

The Peoples State Bank, Detroit, MI 2012

The Peoples Trust Company, Brooklyn, NY 2011

The Peoples Trust Company, Brooklyn, NY 2011

Untitled, Detroit, MI 2012

Untitled, Detroit, MI 2012

Untitled, New York, NY 2013

Untitled, New York, NY 2013

To view more of Michael’s work please visit his website.



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