Kyle Thompson has been making some intriguing progress with his enigmatic and somewhat haunted photographs (which we first debuted on Hi-Fructose last fall). When we last spoke with the self-taught artist, he explained that he found locations to shoot primarily by driving for hours on end, exploring abandoned houses and setting up lighting to shoot himself in obscure locations throughout the outskirts of his then-home-base of Illinois. Now, having relocated to Oregon, the young photographer has developed a new series of works for an upcoming solo exhibition at One Grand Gallery in Portland.
The new series, titled “Ghost Town,” features scenes from a fictional flooded town based on Thompson’s childhood home. “The water metaphorically represents my childhood depression in the way it endlessly engulfs the surroundings,” said the artist. “The individual images don’t connect in a coherent storyline, which removes context and causes the images to feel endless. Included in the series are a group of portraits taken through reflecting water, which warps the subjects appearance to look unrecognizable.”
When asked about the progression of the sets, Thompson replied, “The images in the series were shot over a period of five months. In order to make the series, I built a bunch of sets in my back yard and flooded them. I also built walls that would fold up like an accordion, which I would bring to rivers, lakes, and flooded flower beds, to build sets with. I spent all summer buying and hoarding old furniture and wallpaper, and storing it in my yard, which I would then organize into individual sets.”
There are images that seem to be from an actual abandoned and flooded house, and we learned that they required some adventurous photography. “For the image of the house submerged in water, I went to a flooded ghost town in Utah,” recalled Thompson. “I ended up going shoulder deep in freezing swampy water, and stuck my tripod into the swamp, so my camera balanced just inches above the water for a shot inside the house. I did that while on a road trip, so I had to camp and not shower for days after that, so I am lucky to not have gotten some sort of parasite I guess? Haha!”
Kyle Thompson’s “Ghost Town” will open on February 6 from 7-10 pm at One Grand Gallery in Portland, OR.