≡ John Brill’s Lynchian Universe in photographs ≡

9de7fc28bff17e6578737ad7495fa0ceJohn Brill, Self-portrait, Chihuanhuan Desert, Mexico,1987 (1987-A), printed 2013
Pigment print on rag, with UV-shielding varnish
.

20130428035454-Brill_Trish_20130John Brill, Trish, 2013. Still from video. VHS tape; eight hours.

0f7879ea7f49a6c96aba4cb7280e16cbHypnotherapy-Install2DSC04217Every Boy’s Dream, 2013. Installation views.

John Brill’s faux spirit-photographs are enough to make you believe in ghosts, extraterrestrials and visitations of all kinds. Mr. Brill, who is 49 and is having his third solo show at Kent, is a consummate manipulator of the photographic process, a wizard of the darkroom. Starting out with normal photographs of family and friends (and, it seems, the occasional household pet), he comes up with images that are anything but. He works primarily with selenium- or sulfide-toned silver prints.

The figures and faces, shining orbs and dark silhouettes, phantasms and nebulae that drift through the smoky atmospheres of these images evoke all kinds of encounters, many of them on the creepy side. They include unhappy spirits, amorphous apparitions, unearthed skeletons or mummies from the nearest crypt, evidence of long-ago crimes, ethnographic photographs of shamanistic rites or powerful amulets, surveillance photographs, even U.F.O.’s. The associations are helped by titles like ”Emanations,” ”Trance” and ”Childhood Dreams.”

If all this sounds a little melodramatic, it is. It helps that one can sometimes make out the laughing relative or family portrait that was the photograph’s original subject. Still, these images are often touchingly beautiful. They remind us that because photographs can render the most exact truths, they can also tell the biggest lies. They put one in touch with the intermittent need to believe that, one way or another, we are not alone. ROBERTA SMITH .” text by Roberta Smith. Published: April 14, 2000 in the NYT.

085b2affee7c0ba5d746e582eef78925John Brill, untitled (SX_103) [from a series in progress, Accidental Diary]. Pigment print on rag, with UV-shielding varnish.

b341524bcdd456ba533d7db031b926beJohn Brill, untitled (625-22) [from a series in progress, Hypnagogy]. Pigment print on rag, with UV-shielding varnish.

50f71bc73bc9ec5f09ded8bbca377940John Brill, Bad Memory #1, 2004-06. Selenium toned gelatin silver print, edition of 10.

ea01d7a7941f0d6af4bcea3402bf9306John Brill, Endless Summer installation, 2002.

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