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Stephen Mallon, Brace For Impact: the aftermath of flight 1549

Front Room Gallery
147 Roebling Street, 718-782-2556
September 10 - October 11, 2009
Reception: Saturday, September 12, 7 - 10 PM
Web Site

On Jan. 15, 2009, a few Canadian geese with bad timing became snarge, a steely pilot became a hero, and the world became fascinated with images of a jet splashing into the Hudson River and then floating calmly as passengers crowded its wings.

But until now, few people have seen the equally surprising pictures of the second half of this story: when a salvage team used the biggest floating crane on the East Coast to pluck the ill-fated Airbus A320 from the frigid water.

- Matthew Shechmeister, “Wired Magazine”

Front Room Gallery is pleased to present Stephen Mallon’s “Brace For Impact: the aftermath of flight 1549.” It is very difficult to encapsulate the events that happened during and following the crash of flight 1549, but Stephen Mallon’s large-scale photographs, taken during the salvage of the fuselage and engine, impart a physicality and scale to these incomprehensible occurrences. Mallon’s photos present us with the aftermath of this disaster and remind us how it was averted despite nearly unbeatable odds through the mastery and bravery of the pilot and crew.

Never before has a commercial aircraft crashed in the Hudson with the complete survival of all passengers and crew. They were rescued by the Circle Line sightseeing cruise ferry (along with other rescuers) almost instantly. Men, women and children waited their turns patiently standing on the wings of the plane, half-submerged in the icy water on what felt like the coldest day of the year. This feat is a testament to the bravery of the crew and passengers.

As the fuselage and engine of the aircraft were later brought up intact by a gigantic crane and a team of divers in heated wetsuits, Stephen Mallon captured the moment standing on the deck of the crane-barge. In Mallon’s uncanny photographs the plane sometimes appears to be a metaphorical wounded animal, like a whale lifted completely out of the water. It is damaged, beat up and missing one of its engines, but it nevertheless survives. The divers, in their heated wetsuits with huge face-gear, seem like astronauts floating through an icy void in space. And, we finally get a glimpse of the famous engine—disabled by some unfortunate Canadian geese—in a stunning pseudo-portrait by Stephen Mallon as it is lifted from some eighty feet of icy water.
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