Lynn Sayville

These last nights of summer, the dark never quite arrives, not in the city. It lingers in the future, along with the fall harvest and the winter cold, not so much an absence of light as the ink for a page unready to be written yet. It will come, bringing definition and clarity. For now there is Just miasma. Lynn Saville’s photographs of New York at night capture that near-dark moment when one state of being is just about to become something else: an abandoned storefront straddles its past and future identities; the ethereal figure of a girl on the High Line appears to be navigating between this world and the next. Her images were on exhibit at Pratt Institute thru Oct. 2 and to be published in a book called “Dark City: Urban America at Night” in October, also map the city’s economic churn. Formerly industrial areas burst with residential life, while shops on Madison Avenue turn into empty hulls. Ms. Saville, said she had been drawn to a contradiction inherent in shooting the city at night, when the natural world imposes its face on the urban streets, but only through artificial light. One thing notably absent from these nightscapes is any sense of danger or menace. The night is benign.“It shows how much the city has changed,” said Ms. Saville, who has lived in New York since the 1970s. Still, she added, “Anyone who goes into Central Park at night should go with someone and stick to the roads.”For those who do venture in, she said, the rewards are always surprising. “The arcade by Bethesda Fountain is almost like the Alhambra. And then you go out to the fountain and it’s so dark I have to bring a headlamp or a flashlight. But I often run into runners, musicians, romantic couples, different ones each time” — a summer theater tapped out in the muted light we sometimes call darkness.                      John Leland