When David Maisel was visiting an old, disused psychiatric hospital, he was beckoned into a small room by a A prisoner who had been brought in from the local jail to clean up the building, who had gotten to know the building well. The prisoner referred to the room as The Library of Dust and David was soon to discover that it was crammed floor-to-ceiling with nearly 4000 identical copper tins containing the ashes of patients who had died in the hospital from the 1880s to the 1970s. Respectfully, David took a selection of the canisters and photographed them in turn, segregating them and focusing on the incredible, luminous patterns that had now formed on the decaying copper.
“The room housing these canisters is an attempt at order, categorisation and rationality to be imposed upon randomness, chaos, and the irrational.” Says David, “The canisters, however, insistently and continually change their form over time; they are chemical and alchemical sites of transformation, both organic and mineralogical, living and dead. The Library of Dust describes this labyrinth, and in doing so, gives form to the forgotten.”
New work from Simen Johan’s ongoing series of photographs and sculptures, Until the Kingdom Comes, which he began in 2005, depicts a natural world that is at once familiar and otherworldly. Most, but not all, of the images are intricate digital constructs incorporating elements the artist photographed in various geographical locations. Towering giraffes, shot in various U.S. zoos, populate a hazy, desolate landscape created from images taken in Turkey, Bali and Iceland; spectacular Javan peacocks from Asia are camouflaged within a Spanish pepper tree; and the interior of an Icelandic volcano forms the setting for a gooey tar pit where Peruvian yellow-hooded blackbirds nest. Each image confuses the boundaries between opposing forces such as the natural and the artificial, the beautiful and the eerie, the known and the unknown. These dynamic tensions reflect internal conflicts and contradictions inherent to human nature that fuel Johan’s work.
Born 1985 in Arizona, Mike Brodie began photographing in 2004 when he was given a Polaroid camera. Working under the moniker, The Polaroid Kidd, Brodie spent the next four years circumambulating the U.S., amassing an archive that would go on to become one of the few true collections of American travel photography. Having never undergone any formal training, he chose to remain untethered to the pressures and expectations of the art market.
Brodie compulsively documented his explorations, then, as suddenly as he began making photographs, he left the medium behind.
Brodie recently graduated from the Nashville Auto Diesel College and is now working as a mobile diesel mechanic out of his silver ’93 Dodge Ram. Although he has stopped making photographs, the body of work he made in four short, intense years has left an enduring impact on the photo world.