Untitled (Suzie Hedge), 2006
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When this photograph was made at my friend Garet's parents' house in a suburban part of Providence, it was the beginning of summer and it was warm out. Garet's parents weren't home. Everyone drank and got naked for me and I directed and posed them. This picture always tricks me because I forget that she's not in the woods. I have to look closely to see the security light and the neighbor's garage, barely distinguishable through the hedge. The way that hedge is nearly convincing as natural foliage reminds me of how a makeshift theater set almost passes for whatever environment it's supposed to represent. I grew up in a suburb of San Francisco. And I saw the suburbs constantly in the movies I watched as a kid: Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Risky Business, E.T., Big. So I guess it's no wonder I like using them as a stage for my imaginings. When my brother and I were in middle school, my grandparents took us to Europe and, day after day, we toured castles and museums. The museums were boring to me then, but I liked the classical portraits—especially the skin, that creamy white skin. When I was in third grade I made a movie called The Sign of Danger—a murder mystery. My brother played the hero detective and I cast friends as the rest of the characters. I had everyone come over to my house on the shoot day, but I didn't have a script or even a full storyline—just a vague idea and a style in mind. The rest I improvised. I directed friends in semi-impromptu plays and movies a lot throughout my childhood. In fifth grade, I rewrote The Phantom of the Opera as a hip hop dance musical and convinced the principal, Mr. Raffo, to make the production a required school assembly. So I think that's what I'm doing in my photography: assuming the role of a director and creating these little narratives that are part planned, part impromptu and constructed completely of imagery from my childhood. It's like I'm letting myself as a 10-year-old run the show.
Brandon Herman | See All Editions