Whether mounted on a wall or placed lovingly in a neat plastic notebook on the counter, the dread Artist Statement is always easily found, polluting every art gallery near you. Read one, and any desire you might have had to meet the artist will immediately melt away. In merely a few obtuse paragraphs, the artist will tell you what you already know, expound inarticulately upon philosophies which they know less about than a standard Wikipedia entry, and allude to art trends or influences which have nothing whatsoever to do with their work. (One glorious exception: Bill Viola, whose notebooks are as enlightening as some of his best video art.) I know, for I have been guilty of this. The artist would do best to heed the sage advice of Frank Zappa: “Shut up and play yer guitar.” Still, art gallery owners have required me to write one, and, depending on which artworks of mine they exhibit, my Artist’s Statement usually goes something like the below:
My photography explores the link between the way thoughts jostle for attention in one’s own consciousness and the way people compete to control each other’s behavior. As many of these procedures and behaviors (even among lovers) stem from childhood experiences, I create entertaining and theatrical compositions, stereo photography (View Master Reels and Holmes stereo viewers), and digitally manipulating children’s objects. My hope is that the work’s psychological concerns and modernist attention to detail give the work a depth which rewards extended viewing
One of my obsessions is in exploring the theatricality of daily life: “performances” we play for ourselves in conscious experience, and the games couples perform with each other. Rather than photograph with strobe lighting, I use the hotlights of film, manipulating and positioning my subjects like department-store mannequins. I typically create unusual juxtapositions in common living spaces: a pregnant woman in a cage in a snow-covered suburban backyard; a wife spoon-feeding her husband in a crib, both serving and infantilizing him.
Another theme running through my photography is how our memories, future plans, fantasies and desires compete for attention with the “real world – so that we live our lives both in the present and in a halo of counterfactual states. My fine art is a visual depiction of this simultaneity. To illustrate the way memory acts as a scrim on our daily experience and relationships, I transform toys and children’s books and shoot in abandoned swimming pools and playgrounds. I combine dreams with reality through digital manipulation: an opera singer practices in a room full of distractions and alternate selves acting on them; a husband fantasizes murdering a sleeping spouse in a bedroom filled with dry ice.