Ross Sawyers

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Untitled, 2009

Archival Inkjet Print, 35" x 40"

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Through process of constructing and photographing models, I imagine fictitious rooms with layouts that appear to accommodate unusually close neighboring buildings as result of a once booming real-estate market. Obtrusive walls and nearby windows interrupt the appeal of pristine hardwood floors, crown molding and catalog colored walls. By constructing model rooms that amplify the design compromises common in new residential developments, I try to highlight a tension between housing as a sellable commodity and the home as place of solitude and retreat. In these pictures, notions of privacy and community are continually pushed and reformed by referencing and exaggerating the actions of developers as they build the structures that we live in and call home.

More recent constructions show interiors that look unfinished, deserted and even destroyed. Emptiness pervades in each picture, mirroring stories of loss and vacancy that have become characteristic of the housing downturn. Through the process of foreclosure, the homes I am referencing undergo an immediate transformation from home to empty building, stripping them of the weight and significance associated with the idea of home. Often, as a last act, inhabitants of these spaces destroy or vandalize them as if to mark territory or as an attempt to remind others of their presence after they are gone.

Viewed together these photographs follow the psychology of a boom-and-bust era in residential housing that continues to play out today. By challenging the function of the model as an ideal to be copied, I try to highlight the anxieties and frustrations that many have encountered. This is evident not only in the models, but also in the choice to present the final works as photographs. Photography’s tenuous relationship to truth and reality is a fitting metaphor for the illusions of property value that first propelled the ongoing recession. Like the eventual collapse of the housing market the more one looks at these photographs the signs of a false construction eventually emerges.

Artworks by Ross Sawyers

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