When Karen Jerzyk (previously) decided to photograph people donning ghost costumes, she was well aware of the outfit’s reputation in mainstream culture. “I know the sheet-ghost image has been used a million times before, in countless applications,” she tells Colossal, “but it was October and the timing was perfect and I always loved the simplicity and character of sheet-ghosts.”
At the time, the Boston-based artist was making a quick stop between trips to Florida and California at Yellow Dog Village, an abandoned neighborhood in Pennsylvania. Enthralled with its dilapidated homes and gravel roads, Jerzyk posed her sheet-covered model in the village, starting a new trend in her own uncanny work.
It instantly makes me think of my childhood, and there’s something magical about it—if you were a kid growing up with no resources to get or make a halloween costume (I was never that kid, but always had friends that were, and helped many make their costumes over the years), there was ALWAYS a way to be a ghost.
Since Yellow Dog, Jerzyk has brought her simple costume to rural areas around the northeast United States, creating unsettling images of a single figure posed against a gloomy, neglected backdrop. This specter-centered project is easier to create when traveling than her previous work, Jerzyk says, because anyone can become the haunting figure, including herself, although she hasn’t done that yet. “It’s a character someone can instantly be anywhere,” she says.
The artist has photographed multiple friends, who are all masked by the white sheet with cut-out eye holes. She even convinced her mother to pose in front of an abandoned home in New Hampshire in the midst of Christmas preparations. To keep up with Jerzyk’s haunting adventures, follow her on Instagram and take a look at more of her work on Behance.
Share this story
Nature Thrives in Tehran's Abandoned Courtyards, Staircases, and Bedrooms in a Photo Series by Gohar Dashti
Iranian photographer Gohar Dashti was born in Ahwaz during the early years of the Islamic Revolution and grew up during the Iran-Iraq war. Her personal memories of this time influenced her 2017 series Home, which looks at what happens after human displacement. In the photographs, large abandoned spaces are filled with plentiful plants, fleshing out the spaces with lush growth that highlights the absence of human life. “[The] people in Home moved out, and the images show what happens when one’s home is left behind,” she explains in her artist statement. “The photographs reveal the power of nature to consume and conquer a home.”
The sites Dashti choose to photograph around Tehran are not historical, but rather everyday spaces that residents were forced to leave due to social issues. During an interview with LensCulture she recalls visiting her hometown and finding a building that had belonged to her neighbors. “They had left during the war, and the house had fallen into disrepair. But, on their veranda, a fern remained,” she explained. “It had flourished in their absence, and its neck now curved against its own weight. It had the power to stay there. Left alone, it would eventually consume and conquer the home.”
Some scenes are staged to emphasize the power of nature’s unwavering return, while others are stumbled upon and shot as is. No matter what the location the images emphasize Dashti’s personal connections to the country and nature itself. “People are transient while nature is a constant,” she concludes in her artist statement, “it will be here long after we are all gone.” You can see more photographic series from the artist on her website and Instagram. (via LensCulture)
Share this story
Photographer Karen Jerzyk explores themes of loneliness and isolation through her ongoing series, The Lonely Astronaut. Sparked by her purchase of an authentic vintage high-altitude space suit in 2017, Jerzyk has been traveling the world taking photos of women in the suit. Each subject is alone, placed in a deserted yet evocative environment, from an abandoned theater to an old-fashioned bedroom. In some scenes, the astronaut engages with their surroundings—reading a book or talking on the phone—where in others, the character stands apart from the world they inhabit.
Although many of the scenes have a fantastical tone, the photographer clarifies that she uses only practical effects to create the images. In staging the floating astronaut with butterflies, “I had the model on her stomach on a stool and had real taxidermy butterflies on wire and composited a bunch of shots so I could multiply them,” Jerzyk explains.
Jerzyk shares with Colossal that the astronaut series taps into her own affinity for exploration and her social anxiety. “I think at one time or another, we can all relate with The Lonely Astronaut—things in life can get bad, but there’s still no denying the beauty and wonder of the world, and we need to push on and keep exploring.”
The Boston and New York-based photographer will be capturing subjects in a pop-up scene at PS Kaufman Gallery in Los Angeles on May 16-17, as well as vending at the Oddities Flea Market on May 18-19, 2019. Jerzyk will also be at the Chicago Oddities Flea Market on August 24-25, 2019. You can explore more of Jerzyk’s unusual worlds on Instagram and Behance, and find prints of her photographs on her website. (via designboom)
Share this story
The small fishing village of Houtouwan on the Chinese island of Shengshan has been abandoned since the 1990’s. Due to increased competition with nearby Shanghai and a depleted fishing supply, residents were forced to find work in other towns, leaving their own coastal village to the whim of Mother Nature.
Today the ghost town is only visited by tourists curious to see the vine-wrapped homes and other buildings swallowed by untamed greenery. Shanghai-based photographer and videographer Joe Nafis visited the area last year with fellow photographer Dave Tacon. It took them nearly 36 hours to reach the village due to lack of ferries or connection with other towns in the area. Once in town, Nafis explored the area on foot, as well as from above with his drone.
“Using the drone to explore the village first was a good idea as the paths were not well maintained and overgrown,” Nafis tells Colossal. “Some of the buildings were in tatters, while others looked like they were going through a remodel. It was all very strange. On the Sunday there were a few tourists, about ten to fifteen, and then on Monday we were the only people in the village other than the three to four that still lived there.”
You can view drone footage from the photographer’s visit to the overgrown village in the video below. He recently released an aerial time lapse video focusing on Shanghai’s urban development over the last seven years on his website, and more video-based projects by Nafis can be found on his Instagram and Vimeo. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
Share this story
A few years ago photographer Viktor Egyed accidentally stumbled upon the town Szödliget a few miles outside of Budapest, and to his delight found this small abandoned fishing village filled with clusters of A-frame huts. Deciding the weather was not ideal, Egyed came back a few years later when he was able to capture the town in a hazy fog, the perfect condition to highlight the glasslike reflections of the structures in the lake below.
The feeling of the small lakeside town is just as dreamlike as the imagery suggests. “This small abandoned fishing lake has its own very unique atmosphere,” said Egyed to Colossal. “It is an idyllic place for people who want to escape from the rushing of life for a little while.”
You can see more of Egyed’s photographs on his Behance page here.
Share this story
How does an island in New York City’s East River go from being notoriously feared, almost 100 years ago, to being completely forgotten about today? That’s the story behind North Brother Island, the subject of photographer Christopher Payne’s new photo book.
A 10-minute boat ride from the Bronx’s Barretto Point Park, North Brother Island originally housed Riverside Hospital between the 1880s and 1930s. While in operation, the hospital served hundreds of patients who suffered from extremely communicable diseases, including smallpox, typhus, scarlet fever and even leprosy. It was also where “Typhoid Mary” was quarantined, and where she eventually died. In a 1935 profile for the New Yorker, the editor Stanley Walker described the island as “…a dismal spot. Sitting there, one may see, as the best view, the gas tanks on the Bronx shore. Now and then a ferryboat glides past. At night the dirty water of the East River laps against the rocks, making a messy, ghostly noise.”
The island’s facilities have since been decommissioned and the island itself abandoned since 1963. It sank into the depths of our memories until 2008, when Christopher Payne wrote a proposal to photograph and document the island in its current state. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation agreed, and thus began Payne’s expeditions, which would continue for the next 5 years. His stunning photographs are now available in his new book, “North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place in New York City.” (via Animal and Slate)
Share this story
Editor's Picks: History
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.