When did we stop being afraid of the dark? What happened to the monsters in our closets and the nightmares that sent us running to our parent's bed? In Deadication, a collaborative show at Imaging Arts Gallery on King Street, photographers like Steven Hyatt, Andrew Cebulka, Kimberly Krauck, Diana Deaver, Reese Moore, Dan and Amelia Hale, and Joshua Hoffine explore the concept of fear.
"The show was in many ways borne from the work I was doing," says Hyatt, an artist and employee at the gallery. "For about a year now I've been taking various bones and other animal parts I found interesting and turning them into simple, but in a way beautiful or thought-provoking, images. This has resulted in lots of my friends bringing me dead things. I've not really had an outlet for these, and what I've been best known for is my church project [Churches of Charleston]. It's a great way to have some fun, but also be able to show art that may not all otherwise have a regular outlet."
Hoffine says he is interested in the psychology of fear. "I grew up with an interest in the 'dark side,'" he says. "I loved scary movies and read every Stephen King book I could get my hands on. My interest in horror was revitalized as an adult when I started making scary photographs. I am especially interested in the mechanics of suspense and the metaphoric potential of the horror genre."
Hoffine's dark and disturbing images illustrate our deepest and most innate fears. In "Keyhole," the viewer is part of the action. Peeking through the keyhole into a blood-spattered murder scene, the killer has turned to stare directly at the viewer, and we become his next victim. The painstaking process involved hours of makeup, stage setting, and a patient (and brave) group of models. "The children in the photographs are my daughters, as well as my niece and nephew. They all know me and trust me and enjoy being in my photographs. I make sure that nobody is ever actually frightened during the shoot. I use other family members as the monsters. The clown in 'Balloons,' for instance, was actually grandma wearing no make-up."
Reactions to Hoffine's images vary — some people laugh out loud while others are genuinely upset. His first priority is to create something interesting to look at, but he says the best images invite reflection, making us curious about our own nightmares.
Local photographer Reese Moore, a City Paper contributor, says Halloween is her favorite holiday. With a BFA in photography, much of her professional work involves capturing the beauty of weddings and commercial portraits. However, she believes in exploring the varied outlets within her craft.
"There is a fine line between the everyday and the ethereal, and I think as creative people we have an awareness of darker things," Moore says. Preparing for the Deadication show allowed her to work outside of her norm and follow a darker narrative.
The inspiration for Diana Deaver's haunting images came from a pair of adventurous clients who wanted to do something different for their wedding photos. Deaver suggested a midnight photograph of the couple on the beach, but rain ruined their plans. Posting a model call on Facebook, Deaver stuck with the concept, staging a nighttime shoot on Folly Beach under the light of the moon. The resulting images of a lone woman are beautiful and ghostly.
In "Unweary," Deaver used a long exposure and a flashlight to create a transparent figure moving across the sand and disappearing off the edge of darkness. In "DEADicated," a woman lies dead on the sand, the desert-like horizon of sand and water meeting in the distance. "It was great to be given an opportunity to create something that gets your juices flowing," she says. "It's empowering to let the artist be wild with their imagination." Deaver says creating these images was the first time she played with light at night, and that she feels inspired to use this technique with her upcoming fashion shoots.
Maybe as adults we never stop being scared, but simply learn how to look in the other direction. Or maybe we box up our fears and let them out on one night a year. With Deadication, this group of photographers is giving viewers the chance to stare directly at images that are both beautiful and frightening, the sort of things that keep us up at night.