On Saturday, February 4, photographer Vikram Dogra led a walking tour of downtown Flushing. Participants brought their cameras along for the stroll as they explored the urban landscape during Flushing’s annual Lunar New Year Parade, where thousands crowded Main Street to celebrate. The walk complemented Dogra’s exhibit East of East River, the installation for Queens Botanical Garden’s Art in the Garden gallery in the Visitor and Administration Building that ran from November through February.
A Queens resident inspired by his own neighborhood of Astoria/LIC, Dogra wanted to capture and share his “love and appreciation” for Queens through his photography. Originally started as his personal scrapbook of sorts, the collection grew to include photos taken between 2004 and 2015, which are also included in his self-published book of the same name.
“I have lived in the Astoria/LIC area for over 15 years, and I fell in love with, and began photographing it from the beginning,” Dogra says. “Through photography, I became more and more aware of the many aspects of the neighborhood that made it so special for me. The series of photographs…began initially as a memento to myself of my life here. I wanted [them] to celebrate…the special character and rhythm of life that is uniquely Astoria/LIC and Queens.”
His approach in growing his collection reflects an understanding and sensitiviy to the local cultures he captures. For example, “he opts not to title the works…because so many visitors don’t speak English, but they can connect through his imagery,” explains Regina Minerva, QBG’s Visitor Services and Public Programs Manager.
Like the Garden’s mantra, “the place where people, plants, and cultures meet,” Dogra’s work is a focus of all these elements, even when there may seem to be a lack of plants themselves. Many photos depict the hardscape of the borough with imagery of buildings stacked up against each other, city vistas, and subway plantforms. The striking lack of nature brings to light the importance of places like Queens Botanical Garden, little oases where nature is abundant, and where the visitor is so conveniently present to enjoy!
Photo Credit: Vikram Dogra