David LaChapelle’s Dystopian Fantasy: In His Own Words

“LAND SCAPE,” David LaChapelle’s new show opening tomorrow at Paul Kasmin Gallery, finds the photographer flirting with his inner Thomas Demand. It features a series of slickly produced compositions, all of which appear to be lurid industrial scenes (perhaps snapped along one of New Jersey’s more toxic arteries). In reality, they’re all constructed models, cobbled together out of simple materials. “In a conflicted manner, the photographs in the series present the future: a dystopian terrain that is at once enticing and fearsome, familiar and foreign,” he says. I asked LaChapelle to share a bit of the behind-the-scenes process for two of the new works.

“For Land Scape Emerald City, we assembled tea canisters, egg cartons, spray paint canisters, and other found materials around an elaborately handcrafted cardboard scale model. After completion,  I photographed the model in the studio and in a remote desert location. I photographed Land Scape Emerald City, in such a way that it creates a luminescent shine from this site of oil production. The glow beckons the viewer, but it also repels. Upon further contemplation the viewer realizes the imperfect system inherent in oil production: something seemingly beautiful is in fact terribly flawed.”

“In Luna Park, cans, lightbulbs, bottles, straws, and other materials were sourced to put together the miniature world of this Refinery. I preserved the found items and the viewers ability to identify these objects, turning looking at the photograph into an opportunity to decode the tableau. The night scene employs candy-colored hues, referencing the Luna Park of Coney Island. Enticing with its pinks, purples, and blue ethereal light, but equally loaded with the unmusical implications of the sites purpose.”

“LAND SCAPE” is on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery from January 17 through March 1.




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