Contact Sheet 141: Ben Gest
Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Light Work (April 2, 2007)
This catalogue features the photographs of Ben Gest. His new photographs depict people dressed in their finest and clearly are about to head to important social events. They are getting themselves ready–prepared to be at their best, somewhere among others. Yet, emotionally removed from their surroundings, they have stopped in the middle of what they were doing. They are lost deep in thought, or otherwise not quite ready to face the demands of a social engagement. They have paused for a moment to take that last deep breath.
Gest’s earlier photographs take a look at family life and the many activities that occur within the home. The scenes are compacted with action. Each person is concentrating on a specific activity while another family member is working on something else directly next to them, yet there is no distraction despite the close proximity. Something about the closeness of the figures, especially the familiarity amongst them, make it unnecessary for them to acknowledge each other. Only upon closer examination does the contradiction in some of the family scenes and the unlikeliness of these close-quarter occurrences become apparent. A man is spraying for insects directly in front of a woman eating an orange. Three people entertain themselves in a tight area of a personal library, yet they are oblivious to their closeness that has them almost touching. A woman tends to her turkey in the oven, while her husband installs an air-conditioning unit overhead.
To create his images, Gest combines numerous photographs into seamless final compositions using digital technology. Each image may consist of twenty or more separate photographs taken from various vantage points. The visually surprising images direct the viewer in the construction of everyday narratives.
This catalogue includes an essay by Hannah Frieser.
Gest received his BA in Visual Art from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and his MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago. His work has been featured in numerous group and solo exhibitions nationwide, most recently at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago. His work is part of Light Work’s Permanent Collection, as well as The Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; and the LaSalle Bank Photography Collection. Gest is currently an adjunct professor of photography at Columbia College Chicago. He has received many grants and awards, and participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence program in August 2005.