The photograph that accompanies this week’s Fiction, “Coming Soon,” by Steven Millhauser, is from the series “Landscape with Houses,” by the New York artist James Casebere (whom we posted about in 2011). At first, the picture appears to be of a well-groomed, suburban neighborhood, complete a with pastel sunset. But, in fact, it’s of a tiny model town, painstakingly built by hand, using plaster, wood, cardboard and, cheesecloth.
Casebere told me, “The ‘Landscape with Houses’ series was triggered by the mortgage crisis. In 2009, I began exploring the suburbs and exurbs north of New York, and thinking about them as a subject for the first time since my earliest work. It was a return to the ideas about home and the postmodern that inspired me; ideas that were fuelled by “Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture,” by Robert Venturi, which I was rereading for the first time since I left art school, in the late nineteen-seventies.” Driving on the Taconic Parkway, near Poughkeepsie, Casbebere saw the dramatic change in real estate and the sprawl of urban development of the past thirty years. “I discovered the spread of cookie-cutter McMansion subdivisions, all mixed up with the unplanned ad-hoc triumph of vernacular taste, and a carbon footprint spun out of control.”
Inspired, Casebere returned to his Brooklyn studio. “I began with nine houses on an angled platform, and after shooting Polaroids I expanded the set in all directions to create a sense of sprawl. I would make several copies of each house, using templates rendered by a 3-D imaging software, and paint each one a different color. The landscape evolved in different directions for each shot, with different points of view. The houses, color scheme, lighting, time of day, and season changed for each shot. Until recently, the sky was created in postproduction. This year, I started dropping in skies that I found or shot separately. I would add and subtract detail and shoot digital tests until I was happy with the results. Until 2013, I shot 4 x 5 film. Only this year did I switch to shooting exclusively with a digital camera.”
Above is a slide show of Casebere’s work.
All images courtesy of Sean Kelly, New York.
Via The New Yorker