Last Updated on 04/11/2018 by Mark Beckenbach
Conceptual photography is certainly one of the most intriguing and challenging photography genres to get into and pull off. Still, that doesn’t stop some of the most creative minds from conjuring the most otherworldly imagery and translating them into narratives. Among our favorites are the works of Boston-based fine arts photographer Karen Jerzyk, the most recent of which is her Faceless series.
If you have a taste for imagery brimming with both strangeness and beauty, Karen’s work will definitely fascinate you. It has the kind of creativity that forces you look, then look closer, appealing to your imagination and curiosity for the possible story behind each series. Faceless, for example, appears to have been inspired by odd characters with their faces obscured in weird ways. Look long enough and you’ll begin asking why.
The ways her subjects are rendered “faceless” are easily the most eye-catching elements that lend a touch of surrealism to each photo. But, the characters are just one aspect that make the series an interesting body of conceptual work. Take away the masks, giant yarn strands, and knitted sacks and the scene transforms into two totally different tales that have their own moods and character. It’s interesting how incorporating or removing just one detail changes the feel and narrative of the images altogether.
Faceless also follows Karen’s trademark style of elaborate scenes in abandoned buildings, sometimes going as far as cleaning and restoring rooms to what they may have looked like years ago. “I strive to produce photos that tell a story — that connect with the viewer on a personal level. I like to find locations that were abandoned before any sort of technological age, typically locations with relics left in them from 1980 and earlier (the older, the better). A feeling of ‘future-past’,” she says of her work and distinct style.
What I like most about Karen’s approach to conceptual photography is how looking at each series feels like stepping straight into her dreams. It’s something I specifically look for in conceptual work, and what I personally feel makes the work compelling. I also find it impressive that Karen, being a self-taught photographer, also most likely taught herself to transform her unique visions into surreal and elaborately staged scenes.