By photographing emotionally troubled dogs suffering from abandonment and aggression, the artist Martin Usborne chronicles his own painful struggle with depression. His recent series “Nice to Meet You” tenderly traces unknowable canine narratives by carefully placing the animals behind surfaces and materials: a wet glass pane, a cloud of smoke, pressed flowers.
In distancing the viewer from each creature, the artist paradoxically allows for a heightened level of intimacy with each dog; behind a haunting waterscape or transparent white shroud, each set of eyes glistens and each pointed nose seems to poke through the barrier, begging for closeness with the viewer.
In distorting space with long exposure times and unevenly textured surfaces, Usborne also blurs the notion of time; the animals appear ghostly, shadowy, and otherworldly. As each image leads us farther into this ethereal and lonesome dreamscape, we bear witness to the profound confidences of these gorgeous creatures, and they stare back, inviting viewers to empathize.
Ultimately, Usborne’s canine subjects recall our own murky and lonesome pasts, mirroring the dark places that we normally keep hidden within ourselves. In juxtaposing everyday statements like “I’m fine” and “I also work at the bank” with the charged photographs, the artist paints a portrait of isolation; he himself often repeated automatic phrases like “Nice to meet you” and “You look great” when in the midst of his depression. These animals, partially hidden by fog and fabric, serve as surrogates for we who hide behind words. If only for a moment, these vulnerable faces of dogs remind us that we are not alone; in lending us their quiet companionship, they become our confidantes. (via Design Boom)
In her recent work, the photographer Lisa Lindvay archives the indirect yet undeniable marks left on her family and their home by her mother’s mental illness. With the family landscape surviving as her constant foundation, she invites viewers into a claustrophobic space isolated from the perspective and normalcy of the outside world. Although we are given indicators of their location— McDonald’s bags, generic soda, a “Legalize Gay” wristband—the family appears as if entombed in a time capsule, each member left to fend for themselves since the onset of the matriarch’s illness.
The camera acts as an active character throughout the narrative, forcing intimacy when the closeness and comforts of family seem irrevocably fractured. Eye contact is avoided with all creatures and things aside from the lens itself, which somehow breaks boundaries and transcends each subject’s seemingly self-imposed solitude. Intimate and sensual moments— the applying of hair dye, half-nude lounging, naps with the loyal dog— are generously laid bare for the artist, providing viewers with intermittent flickers of hope.
In her still lifes, otherwise mundane or grotesque subjects are assigned deeper meanings. The artist worshipfully documents trash, each object appearing like a pitiful symbol of continuing life and hope amidst crippling circumstances. A jar of cheese puffs is seen from the floor and lit from an unknowable source, as if standing at the alter of some personal cathedral; an oily ring on a pizza box surrounds a golden mane like the halo of a forgotten saint. As the family faces an uncertain future, half-eaten pizza and dirty socks become the only reminder that time has not in fact stood still within the house; Lindvay captures each with beautifully archival rigor as if to denote days on the calendar. Take a look. (via Feature Shoot)
“To accurately portray the reality of living with mental illness for prisoners in an effort to call attention to the increased imprisonment of the mentally ill in the US” is the stated goal of Jenn Ackerman’s series Trapped.
Ackerman began photographing inside Kentucky State Reformatory in 2008. Over the course of her time there she gained trust of the inmates and guards and unprecedented access to their facility and procedure. The resulting series is a stunning look inside the experience of the mentally ill shuffled through a prison system not equipped to withstand, care for, or rehabilitate them. A system in dire need of attention and reform. (via)
Chris Mars packs his compositions with awesome texture and gruesome characters. With Todd Schorr levels of craftsmanship and imagination, these paintings warrant long viewing sessions. But good luck spending any extended amount of time among them without getting sufficiently creeped out. A lot more images at the artist’s website, which also features a soundtrack and in-depth writing from Mars on his sources of inspiration.