In 2014, I moved to a dilapidated pink house on the outskirts of a small town, entombed in a perpetual layer of dust from a nearby crematorium. In this liminal space beneath a freeway, I scrubbed daily at the remains left in the space and the shells of lives, while dealing with a failing relationship and a job at a photography studio that specialized in corporate headshots with blurred blue backgrounds from grade school picture day.
In The Ethics of Ambiguity, de Beauvoir coined the term “bad faith” when referring to the lies we tell ourselves regarding our lot in life. As an anecdote, she acknowledges the antithesis, “negative ecstasy,” in which we simultaneously acknowledge our own lies and we grasp the fact that we actually have limitless choices.
In a collision of worlds, this work recontextualizes photographs I made when I was both a participant and observer within the poverty around me. These images redefine traditional notions of socioeconomic reportage by combining, warping, and flattening my own source images of the people and places of my low income, industrial neighborhood. The distortion became a means of deciphering and questioning, as I examined the relationship between photographer and photograph, photographer and subject, and between photography and painting.
Mirroring the oscillations between my polarities of bad faith and negative ecstasy, the photographs pivot between mimesis and the boundless, transformative potential of the medium in the digital age. I seek to reframe notions of class representation, elevating my pictures and subjects beyond the rigidity of the studio portrait and the stasis of tradition.
All images are “Untitled” and from the series “Bad Faith”