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Jessica Backhaus’s vibrant color photographs endow negligible objects—the yellow pages sitting in a pile of snow (Small Wonder, 2008), a water bottle floating in a puddle (Bottle, 2006)—with gravitas. The images, which are never staged, stem from her curiosity about things that get left behind in the frenzy of contemporary consumer culture. “How do things get to where they are?” she asks. Her works focus on quiet moments or unexpected visual passages, such as the reflection of a venerable tree on a rain-soaked tennis court, rather than the literal depiction of her subjects. Backhaus’s first book, Jesus and the Cherries (2005), vividly captured the simplicities of life in a small Polish town; her typically de-populated scenes contain enough narrative clues—a handprint on a kitchen window, for instance—to pique viewers’ curiosity about an underlying story.
German, b. 1970