ARTS & COLLECTIBLES

STAGED CATASTROPHE

The garden of Eden in a world on the brink of collapse, fill-in-the-blanks.

JESSICA HALL

Blue House on Water #2, 2019 Tirage pigmentaire encadré et monté sur Dibond Framed archival pigment print mounted to dibond 152,7 x 118,7 cm (60 1/8 x 46 1/4 in.) 160 x 126 cm encadré (63 x 49 5/8 in. framed) Copyright of the artist

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Considered to be a pioneer of constructed photography, American photographer and installation artist James Casebere (b.1953), creates images of a kind of no man’s land somewhere between reality and fiction. His eerily redolent works encourage viewers to imagine a not so pleasant narrative of past or future events. Displaying his mastery of staged photography, the latest solo exhibition, On the Water’s Edge at Templon Gallery in Paris, once again challenges you -this time to confront environmental disaster.

Orange House on Water, 2019 Tirage pigmentaire encadré et monté sur Dibond Framed archival pigment print mounted to dibond 118,7 x 153,2 cm (46,75 x 60,31 in.) 124,6 x 159 cm encadré (49 1/16 x 62 9/16 in. framed) Copyright of the artist

Casebere made his first photographs of constructed models in 1975 while completing a BFA at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. By the time he graduated from the California Institute of Fine Arts in Valencia, he was part of a generation of American artists that was redefining the use of photography in art. Casebere’s early work directly referenced Hollywood films and television, depicting scenes in American domestic interiors or the collective perception of the Wild West. The images void of people take on a characteristic reminiscent of film noir. By the end of the 80s, architectural references began to dominate Casebere’s work. During the 90s, the imagery in his photographs became more specific, if not more elusive, focusing in particular on architectural features of prisons and underground vaults. His work for the past forty-plus years placed him at the forefront of artists working with constructed photography alongside other prominent figures such as Jeff Wall and Gregory Crewdson. His work has been seen in many major museums, including New York’s MOMA, Guggenheim, and the MET, as well as London’s Victoria and Albert and the Tate Modern.

His latest work, On the Water’s Edge, sets James Casebere’s sights on the future with a series of unique public spaces and private sanctuaries in coastal regions immersed in a watery world. He selects a perilous yet optimistic approach to the current disasters caused by rising sea levels. With homes and pavilions, securely anchored in the midst of flooded landscapes, Casebere examines an unexpected dichotomy - humans are extremely defenseless to nature but are exceptionally good at tackling and adapting to her calls.

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