The House series, possibly his most ambitious project to date, consists of a set of colour photographs recreating an ideal suburb. This imaginary space is the fruit of the artist’s impressions of Dutchess County in the USA. It took two years of work to create the giant model photographed in the studio.
Comfortable coloured houses spread across rolling green hills where we see the passing of the day. In a new move, James Casebere occasionally introduces a human presence into his images, although often no more than the trace left by someone’s passage: a light filtering from the windows, an abandoned lawnmower. Lying somewhere between “just abandoned” and “about to be inhabited”, the architecture he describes is caught in the moment of “the uncanny” (A. Vidler).
James Casebere reflects on his own fascination with houses, seen as the symbol of the American community utopia. His work comments in poetic fashion on the subprime crisis. The illusion conjured up by his photographs mirrors the delusion of an untenable system based on a credit-fuelled life. By directing our thoughts to a world made up of toy-sized models, the artist reveals the fragility of the American dream of property and prosperity.
James Casebere’s work reflects his love of architecture and the language of film. Twenty-five years ago, his work established him at the forefront of artists working with staged photography, the best known of them being Jeff Wall and Gregory Crewdson. Exhibited for the first time at the Whitney Museum Biennial in New York in early 2010, the images in the House series were much talked of on the American artistic scene. They take the artist a step further in his quest to cultivate the ambiguity of photography and of human geography. His work, with all its political content, was last seen in France at the Galerie Templon. His 2005 exhibition explored the relationship between West and “Orient”. On his return to France in 2008, his inspiration came from rumours of secret American prisons abroad.
Born in 1953, James Casebere lives and works in New York. Recent projects have included taking part in The Pictures Generation exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum in 2009 as well as Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Videoperformance at the Solomon R.Guggenheim Museum in 2010, also in New York.
His work is featured by several institutions, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Solomon R.Guggenheim Museum and Metropolitan Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum and Tate Modern in London.