New York Photo Review
Volume 3 Issue 18 May 16 to 22, 2012

Crimes Scenes
Jeanette May and Jocelyn Chase
Creature Features
Mohammad Chowdhury
Defunct by Jocelyn Chase. Source: airgallery.org
Jocelyn Chase, "Defunct" 2012

The A.I.R Gallery is currently hosting “Creature Features”, the photographic works of Jocelyn Chase and Jeanette May. Constructing and modeling their shots with a great deal of care and pre-thought, both photographers used abstraction to comment on the romanticization of gore and violence in the entertainment industry.

In “Defunct” Chase presents her subjects with a raw, organic quality, keeping her compositions simple by having her subjects centered within the frame placed against a solid black or white background. Breaking the rule of thirds causes the photographs to be a little mundane in terms of action and lacking any kind of movement to guide the viewer’s eyes. However, this also forces the viewer to look directly at the subjects which emulate human flesh, possessing a dual quality of seeming both dead and alive. This creates an unnerving effect on the viewer. It is as if Chase is challenging us to continue looking at these photographs and notice the fine little details. And once you do get closer those details reveal themselves, such as the soft burst of colors in Excreted Fluids which looks like an alien blob with protruding horns. Then there is Seed which could be the title of a scary alien movie as the subject itself resembles an embryo with a tiny worm growing inside of it, a soft yet sinister shadow lurking just beneath its surface. Out of the nine pieces in “Defunct” Abscess Incision is perhaps the most exciting and disturbing. The subject looks like a human organ that has been cut open with the flesh and veins exposed. To make this really pop Chase added a bright orange diamond shape behind the fleshy subject, which not only nicely contrasts with the black background but also makes the fabricated organ the focal point. Just the way popular entertainment serves up grotesque violence for our indulgence, this organ is being served on a plate.

Morbidity and Mortality by Jeanette May. Source: airgallery.org
Jeanette May, "Morbidity and Mortality" 2012

Because of her use of small and harmless animal plush dolls, at first glance Jeanette May’s photographs look like the aftermath of child’s play. Yet it’s only a matter of seconds before an unsettling feeling overcomes the viewer. In her sequence, “Morbidity and Mortality”, each doll represents a corpse tactfully placed in a household setting, perhaps to show us that we have become so accustomed to violence we willingly welcome its presence in our homes. May skillfully utilizes her subject’s natural surroundings to guide the viewer’s eyes in each piece and focus on the subject. Flamingo features the bird’s limp body lying between the bathtub and bathroom floor, half in shadow, half in light, an abandoned and lonely creature living in two separate worlds. The bright pink color of the flamingo immediately stands out while the diagonal lines of the bathtub edge and tiles help keep the subject grounded and tied within the frame. Baby Bird carries a grimmer subject matter with a rooster’s head lying on the kitchen floor surrounded by various kitchen utensils. The photographer creates an atmosphere of controlled chaos with the utensils lying around and framing the severed head. The burgundy head stands out within the cool color scheme, provoking a cold and empty feeling, while the presence of stainless steel helps to bring out the stoic quality in the subject’s world. In Squirrel May once again masters that feeling of controlled chaos. An ordinary reading lamp throws a harsh light on the body of the plush squirrel (almost a tiny taxidermy squirrel) lying on its back on a table top in what looks like a crime scene. Out of focus in the background are books, pens and a scissors to add dimension and urban character. The presence of death in the household setting underscores the frailty of life and serves as a reminder of our mortality.

Chase’s raw subjects juxtaposed with May’s ironic plush toys form a harmonious combination that makes “Creature Features” a thought provoking exhibition. It will run until May 20th, which is sufficient time to plan a visit.

Jeanette May and Jocelyn Chase
Creature Features


A.I.R. Gallery
111 Front St. 2nd Fl
Dumbo Brooklyn         Map

212 255 6651
airgallery.org

Thursday, April 26 to
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Hours: Wed-Sun, 11 to 6
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