At the state fair, everything comes in candy colors. Everything is bright, blinking, glowing, popping, chirping, everyone wins! Even the carnies, dried out and tired, push shy teenagers towards each other like smoke-stained cupids. Why don’t you win that pretty girl a rose? How can you help but smile? Laugh? Spin and shriek on the rides, get your hands and face sticky with corn dogs and funnel cake, and win your girl a prize?
And then, for a moment, the spell breaks. And all the cotton candy and inflatable dolphins in Iowa aren’t enough to keep your feet from aching.
Shot on Portra 160NC with a Hasseblad 500CM
at the Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota state fairs
And every year, when I look at yet another set of cherubs and inspirational sayings in the embroidery section, I wish that someone would disrupt all that sweetness.
This year, I though maybe I should.
DMC embroidery floss
If you could see the African savannah, what would you want it to look like? Would it be in the hour just after dawn, with the light blushing pink against the grass? Is there a herd of zebra nearby, a clump of acacia trees in the distance?
Out of fur and hoof, out of wood and cotton and resin, we have constructed that perfect moment. Here, the animals are always perfectly posed and the light is always beautiful. Here, in the museum, are our collective dreams of paradise, made real.
Beautifully, perfectly, preserved.
shot on Portra 400 NC with a Hasseblad 500CM
at the Field Museum in Chicago and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco
From a box of photographs under my bed.
When I was in my early twenties, I wanted my photography to transform the people and places around me into something more than they were. My real life was ordinary; I didn’t need or want a record of it. Instead, I experimented with cameras and printing chemicals, deliberately obscuring details that would interfere with the fantasy I was trying to create.
Back then, of course, everything was real and tangible and right in front of me. But that was more than ten years ago. I look at these photos now, and I am amazed at how well they captured, not what was there at the time, but how little I remember. Two girls, posing by a tree, faceless except for my fading memory.
I didn’t know it then, but I was photographing the future. I was photographing, not that day in Central Park, but another time, miles and years away, when I would look through this old box of photos, trying⏤and failing⏤to remember their faces.
silver gelatin lith prints, various sizes
shot on TX, Agfa 100, HP5
on a Holga, a twin lens, a 4×5 press camera, and my boyfriend’s Hasseblad
in Berkeley, CA, Towson, MD, and New York, NY,
The house on Rolando Knolls Drive in La Mesa was built the same year I was, 1951. Lillian – very pregnant with me – and Alex moved in with their toddler Leah, in October of that year. The house was built by Lillian’s father, George Kurtz, a general contractor, with help from his son-in-law (and my uncle) Charles Curley and from Andreas Davias, Alex’s stepfather, who I would grow up to call Grandpa Andy, and after whom I was middle-named.
My cousin Bob (Curley’s son, now 70) has fond memories of also ‘helping Grandpa’ at that job site. There is to this day an obscure location in the hall closet where 8-year-old Bob’s carpentry skills are evident, in the form of indentations in the floor molding from bent nails.-Ken Regas
I am building a digital model, object by object, of my grandparents’ house as I remember it. These virtual representations can be made exact to the hundredth of an inch, but I find myself guessing at shapes and fudging dimensions. It is my memory that fails me.
models and renders made in 3D Studio Max
I am not my body. My body is something other, a separate entity with its own set of needs, desires, its own agenda. I plead with it. I bargain with it. I make it promises. I punish, and reward it. But it is only the space I reside in. I never acknowledge it as myself.
For ten years, I nurtured this separation. I owned no mirrors, and avoided my reflection in the world. I did not know what I looked like; I did not want to know.
And now, I am trying to correct that ignorance. I am trying to learn my body again: what it was, what it is, what it can be. I want to become my body again. The act of making photographs is the act of asking questions, and through the photographs I am trying to find answers. The images themselves are the byproduct, not the answer.
shot with an old digital Rebel, a spare room, and a 10 second self timer
Each message is an imagined future, the beginning of a story that could have happened. Each message is a different life I never had.
I have written to one hundred and eight different people and each one of those one hundred and eight people have seen a different version of me.
I look at all these messages, and wonder what they add up to. I try to catalog them, categorize them, study them. I am struggling to make sense of them. I believe that I am here, somewhere, in these messages, in all this data, if I only knew where to look.