Imagine the perfect Southern California backyard; it’s bathed in
the warm glow of the summer sun, sprinkled with the faint smell of saltwater,
and the sweet chirping of tropical birds. Though this scenario may seem far-off
for many, for New Yorkers this month, a perfect slice of SoCal, circa 1980, can
be found right inside Chelsea gallery Hasted Krauetler
of Jeff Bark
Bark found his roots as a photographer under these same circumstances, and for
his new series of works, which premieres in “Goldenboy
,” he was
inspired to recreate the context that fostered his formation as an artist.
Inside his own New York studio, the artist constructed a stage set mimicking
the original site, where he was able to install a world that measured up to his
exact specifications, completed with the perfect atmospheric lighting, freed
from the volatility of natural light and the elements. The resulting
photographs, richly saturated in warm, orangey sepia tones, not only appear to
be taken outdoors, but suggest a sweltering day at peaking temperatures.
His protagonist, the Goldenboy, is a dreamy vision of shiny
tan skin and abs, an idyllic human specimen who ironically languishes in a
world that has gone awry. Surrounded by dead grass littered with solo cups,
smashed grapefruits, toppled vases, towels, and a fish tank filled with punch,
all signs point to transgressive acts or a raging fête that transpired the night before. Stoically lounging—on
armchairs, an inflatable raft, a lawn chair, and inside a car—he lethargically
ruminates the encroaching chaos or recovers from it, eating popsicles and toiling
away in the aggressive heat. While Bark was the same age as this young man when
he took his first photographs, Goldenboy’s narrative is far from the truth, a
fictive journey from his backyard to a car where he sits in a towel, with 70
dollars in his lap.
These deeply layered, compelling photographs are activated upon
exhibition at Hasted Kraeutler, where Goldenboy’s world comes to life through
an immersive site-specific installation, complete with salt-kissed air and live
“Goldenboy” is on view
at Hasted Kraeutler, New York, Apr. 24th–Jun. 14th, 2014.