The works at Cheim & Read mark a new direction for Fuss, but also a return to familiar techniques and themes. Some of his first photograms and images of snakes were made in the late 1980s. After losing his job working as a Eurobond settlements clerk in London, he followed a friend, the artist Simon Frost, to New York in 1982. “I was homeless, squatting, single, and jobless when Simon invited me to New York,” Fuss says. “I felt at home within five minutes, so I stayed.” He settled in Williamsburg and started photographing the neighborhood’s then-abandoned buildings and streetside debris.
Using a camera—or, as he’ll tell you, “abusing the camera”—he layered multiple images, mixed daylight and flash, and tried to create something complex. “That camera, and the cameras made today, are made to take clean, sharp, well-exposed pictures,” he explains. “I had one of those, and I was trying to use it in a untraditional way; to produce a different kind of picture.” But printing the images was too expensive, so he staged slideshows in clubs like the infamous Pyramid Club in the East Village. He wasn’t satisfied with the results.