Possession by Jason Langer

Issue 60

Possession marks something of a departure for Langer. In his images of people he conspicuously turns his focus away from the investigation of an individual’s personality in favor of details that suggest a more generic or universal identity. Langer’s subjects remain anonymous.

Langer turns his interest in the universal inside-out when photographing inanimate objects, the effect of which can sometimes verge on the supernatural. Puppets, automatons, mannequins, and human doppelgängers of all kinds exist at the intersection of the real and the imaginary, and in their life-likeness they can disturb our sense of what we consider familiar and ordinary. Just so, for his Possession series Jason Langer offers the spectator an uncanny intimacy with objects that appear life-like, that blur the line between the animate and the inanimate.

Langer follows in the tradition of the flâneur-photographer.  His images are, as he puts it, the product of “walking the streets alone as a stranger in a strange land.” To shadow Langer on his walks is to visit the haunts of amusement parks, lonely bars, nighttime streets and alleys, beautiful women and their chaperones, gardens, hotels, and supper clubs. Regardless of their subject, Langer's images return us to a place where what happens in front of the lens is unanticipated and distinctly photographic.

Unlike most of Langer’s photographs of people, his portraits of objects, by contrast, take full interest in the faces and feelings of the things themselves. “I am drawn to the human emotions in things,” Langer says. “And for this series my approach has been to capture them like a researcher collecting specimens.”

Like the images in his first monograph, Secret City, the palette of Possession predominates in rich, moody blacks lending an aura of mystery and risk to his subjects which typically exist in a state of only partial illumination. Even in his photographic explorations of the human body, he avoids the staged tableaux so common in much of contemporary photography. Whether they figure studies, street scenes or inanimate objects, Langer’s images strive always to capture the unanticipated or chance moment.

Neither directing the placement or look of his subjects, nor complacent to capture them in the banal light of the everyday, Langer searches out the cracks in ordinary reality in order to expose the mystery and wonder of having a body and of finding our place in a surreal world.

- John Hill, 2011
 

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Jason Langer lives and works in Portland, OR.
To view more of Jason's work, please visit his website.

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