Friday, October 20, 2006

james casebere

One of my favorite photographers has to be James Casebere. The Michigan born artist has been photographing mostly interior scenes since the mid-1970's. What you might not realize upon first glance, is that his images are carefully constructed models, rather than actual dwellings. Using model-makers 'tricks of the trade' he builds detailed table-top miniatures of the most amazing spaces with simple materials such as plaster, styrofoam, and cardboard. His interiors have ranged from a faux-flooded prep school to an asylum, using light as another tool to accentuate each space.

James Casebere was one of the first photographers to 'construct' a new reality simply for sake of the photograph. This idea has been further elaborated upon by dozens of great photographers such as Sandy Skoglund, Gregory Crewsdon, and Laurie Simmons. Constructed Realities: The Art of Staged Photography, is a great book if you are interested in learning more on this topic. The idea for many of these photographers is to find the commonalities between sculpture, photography, and architecture; where the lines cross and where they blur.
This style of photography has been a huge influence on my own photographic work. I think it is the idea of the process from start to finish. Before you look through the lens and snap the shutter, you might spend months creating this world, literally with your own hands. For photographers who print from their own negatives, toiling away with chemicals in the darkroom, the image doesn't just end with a tactile experience but begins with one as well.

James Casebere has won numerous prestigious awards such as a Guggenheim grant, has exhibited worldwide, and spent time teaching at Cal Arts. He currently lives in New York. You can read another good article about him here.