Tall Tales

Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs’s "Caravan"

“After a while we started to imagine the photographs as little theatre pieces,” muses Nico Krebs on Caravan, his latest work with collaborator Taiyo Onorato. “All the still lifes were photographed on a table similar to a stage set. Taking the object as the first line of a play, we would decide on how to do the lighting and how to build up the atmosphere around that object.” The Swiss artists, who met in the darkroom at college, work frequently with wildly inventive fashion designer Bernhard Willhelm, and have had solo shows at PS1 MoMA in New York and EX3 in Florence. For this series they used an archaic photographic process, printing directly onto baryta paper (a technique invented at the same time as the daguerrotype), using long exposure times and forgoing the use of negatives. The duo are particularly interested in the relationships between each of their photographs, painstakingly arranging images to draw out unexpected narratives. For Caravan, their subjects include found props and other pieces that they had used or made for previous projects. They subsequently built on these earlier ideas by scavenging for specific objects from flea markets and thrift stores to complete the visual story, and the multiple interpretations expand exponentially in a gallery setting. Krebs explains: “The pictures are hung in a way we call ‘scrabble hanging,’ which means one picture can lead to different series in several lines of images, the end result being like a long story line with different chapters.”

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