Lisa Kereszi’s creepy photos of low-budget scare attractions

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[Note: disturbing photos below]

Lisa Kereszi “has an eye for the kind of detail that makes you feel like slitting your throat,” Sarah Boxer writes in her New York Times review of an exhibition that included Kereszi’s photos of Governors Island, in New York Harbor. A courtesy phone the color of freshly dried blood; a drinking fountain that somehow manages to look sinister against the traffic-cone orange of the wall behind it; an abandoned motel room whose queasy-green carpet still bears the ghost image of a bed, a discolored rectangle uncomfortably reminiscent of a grave: looking at Kereszi’s images of the former military and Coast Guard base, we have to agree with Boxer’s observation that she has an eye for “plain and awful surfaces.”

Kereszi, who is director of undergraduate studies in the Yale School of Art when she isn’t prowling modern ruins, captures the uncanniness of the banal, the creepy melancholy of the abject, the disquieting blur at the edge of camera frame. Boxer compares her work to Eugène Atget’s proto-surrealist photographs of dreamlike boulevards and sleepwalking mannequins in Belle-Époque Paris but to my mind it’s more accurately a cross between Diane Arbus’s mixture of the mundane and the insinuating — her ability to render the everyday freakish with the snap of a shutter — and the nameless creepiness of David Lynch. (I’m thinking of the saloon singer’s apartment in Blue Velvet.)

Nowhere is this quality more abundantly on display than in Haunted, a “Halloween series” of “temporary and semi-permanent scare attractions” Kereszi has “been working on, on and off, since 2004,” as she told me in an e-mail. Read the rest