Brea Souders challenges what we expect a photograph to be

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In her debut monograph, Souders has with the elasticity of picture taking to conjure vibrant new energy in a medium usually restrained by tradition

“There is always absence. We have gaps in our understanding and perception. That lack propels me forward, ” says Brea Souders , a Brooklyn-based artist known for disrupting our own assumptions of what photography is through a multifaceted practice that defies categorisation. Souders constantly experiments with equipment, processes and strategies, generating images that are unfamiliar plus unfixed. In Eleven Years , the particular artist’s first monograph published by Saint Lucy Textbooks, six bodies of work spanning 2010 to 2021 evoke a sense of wonder while grappling with the enduring issues of climate change, technologies, trauma and belonging.

Initially, it’s not apparent how deeply personal Souders’ inimitable function is. But , her multivalent way of seeing is grounded in survival, self-actualisation plus awakening. Rich histories imbue her images, many of which speak to her deepest recollections and, over time, reflect a good archive of existence. The strain between art and science that manifests in her practice is attributed to her childhood and growing up with creative parents. Her mother was an artist and her father a physicist who “tinkered with figurine on the side”. “Physics notifies how I think about movement, optics, perception and experimentation, ” Souders explains. “I [also] inherited the sensitivity to colour from my mother and always loved how she created vertical assemblies of anything at all she found interesting. ”

Sunburn in Naples. From Counterforms © Brea Souders.

Mille Fleurs. From Counterforms © Brea Souders.

The book’s first autobiographical trace can be Counterforms (2010-2012), an exploration of memory, archiving, and ancestral roots undertaken by Souders to understand her lineage. The photographic sculptures and collages blend familiar objects recontextualised to make fragmentary works that tease out a sense of rootlessness and being composed of different parts. Here we experience methods that underlie her specific visual language from short lived materiality, a seductive usage of colour, to how the girl allows chance to infiltrate the girl rigorous process.

One of the most extraordinary things about Souders is exactly how she reasserts the liveliness of ordinary things. The second body of work in the publication, Film Electric (2012 – 2018), developed from a decluttering exercise during which the artist destroyed a decade’s worth of unwanted disadvantages. As she cut in to the frames, static electricity billed the fragments, creating temporary sculptures against the plastic film sleeves. The kaleidoscopic actions create a mesmerising and tender metaphor for lived and living memory. “That was your first time I was especially open to chance, ” gives Souders. “Both my parents experienced passed away within a year. It became a time of lifestyle when I was slowing down and looking at things very closely. That rearrangement and its effect on my life through film broken phrases were powerful to observe. ” 

Hand. From Film Electric © Brea Souders.

The idea of materials performing and how the artist is both spectator plus director is also present in Ditch in the Curtain (2015). Right here Souders paints with lighten, watercolours and photo programmer on sheet film duplicating family snapshots and sketching from memory. The work can be heavy and disturbing. There exists a sense of revelation as if Souders is inviting us all into her interior entire world, asking us to give up to the messiness of being human being. “I photograph them while they are still wet, whirling and active, ” the girl explains. It’s akin to street photography in that I’m and then decisive moment. I go towards processes that mirror real life. Things change following to second, and I appreciate honouring that. ” Souders animates the idea that equipment and process are not just strategies but also meaning-makers throughout the guide.

Max. From Hole in the Curtain © Brea Souders.

Hand. Through Hole in the Curtain © Brea Souders.

Anxiety around the climate crisis is a throughline in her latest function, Vistas (2019-2021), a series of hand-painted images from Google Photograph Sphere. The software is distinctive from the roving car-mounted cameras used to create Google Street View. Instead, it collates user-generated photos stitched jointly by artificial intelligence to render landscapes where highways don’t exist. While in a situation of virtual wanderlust discovering national parks, Souders started to notice that AI removes most human presence apart from their particular shadows. Reminiscent of the shadow selfie, she became fascinated with the ‘traces of humans’ — the idea of ‘being right now there but not there’ and switching the virtual experience into something physical. The addition of lighter hues reminiscent of late 19th-century picture postcards reinforces the idea of time passing, and how we have and continue to mythologise the American West. “With Scenery, I’ve been interested in the way the images seem to foreshadow our own impact on the environment, ” says Souders. “The project furthermore touches on how technology impacts our lives and how both energies are intertwined. ”

Exploring Eleven Years is a moving experience. Souders’ playing with the elasticity of photography conjures vibrant new energy inside a medium often restrained simply by tradition. The work does not simply offer a new potentiality for the purpose of what photography can be. Additionally, it sets the stage to have an intimate encounter that situates the viewer’s relationship to the world and ourselves front side and centre.

From Vistas © Brea Souders.

From Vistas © Brea Souders.

From Vistas © Brea Souders.

Gem Fletcher

Creative director, article writer, podcaster and photo director, Gem Fletcher works throughout visual-cultural fields, focusing on emerging talent in contemporary photography and art. She is the photo director of Riposte Magazine, and hosts the photography podcast, The Untidy Truth.

No Newer Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *