This accident left the imprint of a burnt red ring on the photo paper, with frayed edges revealing nuanced color variations locked into the black ink, an effect that Foerster liked so much he began routinely to experiment with photosensitive paper, exposing it to the elements—rain, heat, bird shit—weighting the paper with rocks and earth to hold it in place, which then become an encrusted layer over the image. “There’s a huge satisfaction for me, obviously, about making something out of nothing,” he reflects.
When Hurricane Sandy struck in 2011, piles of the images stored in his Brighton Beach home became waterlogged; for Foerster, though, the damage only improved them, turning images of people and places into cloudy abstractions. His total lack of preciousness or pretension manifests itself in the curled corners and rough surfaces of his compositions, and extends to his approach to installation and framing. “I really feel like you could just put some shit from the ground in a frame and you’d be like ‘Oh, interesting,’ or put something onto stretcher bars and it’s automatically ‘art.’ It’s like it has this context of importance,” he says. Instead, Foerster pins his work to the walls of galleries, giving them an absorbing, unfinished quality that more closely resembles the artist’s studio than a pristine exhibition display. One has the sense of the artist intensely working through something, with measure and restraint. “It makes things way more democratic when it’s all hung up in the same way, nailed up, or taped up, or using magnets or something—it’s more DIY, like something you would do at home.”