Michael Marcelle: Kokomo
Sometimes all you need to see is one image and you just know. That was the case with the work of Michael Marcelle–one image and I was hooked. This photograph of bloodied hands pulling something out of of shells, bloodied in a way that began my imagination spinning, left me wanting more. And good timing as Michael has a new book, Komomo, published by Matte Editions, his first monograph, with 52 stunning color photographs and an Afterword by Gregory Crewdson.It can be ordered here.
The project, Kokomo, comes from a personal and traumatic space when all things certain morphed into new realities after Hurricane Sandy. Using visual inspirations taken from horror films, his photographs take on a David Lynchian quality where he sees his family and his town as fodder for his own off -kilter screenplay of still images. Portraits glow with a retro-active acidity, still lifes and landscapes are inspired by Fangoria magazines as he takes us through a series of one image scenes leaving the narrative up to the viewer. His work is like a trip to Disneyland while on acid with a slasher on the loose. All things normal take on a whole new meaning and reality.
Matte Editions states, “Drawing from the aesthetics of low budget horror films and pioneering queer artists such as Kenneth Anger and James Bidgood, Marcelle imagines that the storm tore a literal hole in space and time, creating an uncanny inversion of the traditional notion of “home”. His family member’s bodies morph and shift in perpetual states of mutation and regeneration, and familiar landscapes are transformed into technicolor sites of oblique rites and rituals”.
Michael Marcelle was born in New Jersey in 1983, graduated from Bard College in 2005, and received an MFA from Yale University in 2013. His work has been exhibited at the Aperture Foundation, Interstate Projects, Pioneer Works, and Johalla Projects, among others, and has been featured in The New Yorker, Vogue, Vice, Huffington Post, Juxtapoz, and more. His first book, Kokomo, will be released in Spring 2017 through MATTE Editions.
The pictures in Kokomo center around my family and hometown, a coastal suburb in the northeast that was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. The work forgoes a diaristic approach to the subject matter, and instead builds an alternate reality over my biography, abstracting the specifics of a personal narrative and a town’s destruction into an elusive, alien world.
There is no distinction between landscape, portrait, or still life in the work. The photographs reference notions of spectacle, queerness, and horror, while continually deconstructing and reconfiguring the roles of my family and the world they inhabit. Linear time is collapsed in the photographs, blurring the boundaries between past, present, and future. Bodies morph and shift in perpetual states of mutation and regeneration, and familiar landscapes are transformed into sites of oblique rites and rituals. The work is drenched in an inverted, uncanny nostalgia that yearns simultaneously with longing and repulsion.
Though an immensely personal body of work, specific details are rendered insignificant by new forms that emerge. What remains are photographs of an aging family in a town ruined by a storm.
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