Inhabitants

Stephen Waddell


Stephen Waddell’s work occupies a space between the photograph as document and as art. Appearing first as images born from strict observation, his pictures are gradually inflected by an awareness of the poetic choices made by the artist. The artist cites Russian avant-garde filmmaker Dziga Vertov as an influence, believing his documentary model provides our best modern example for picture making. Vertov regarded the camera as an objective eye. Similarly, Waddell follows no assignments and has no projects; instead, he strives to make pictures that have veracity and bear witness to overlooked things. Like Vertov, Waddell photographs from life. The artist sees himself as "casting" for an epic film he will never make.

Waddell’s recent pictures are depictions of partially witnessed encounters. A man sits in his car, the door fully swung open onto the sidewalk. His waiting period indeterminate. His errand unclear. Digging a hole, a young man gazes into the pit. A child walks across a lakeside terrain, seemingly preoccupied by a private concern. Three young women sit at the base of a monument to the renowned German artist Käthe Kollwitz, but appear oblivious to it. Waddell presents everyday moments that suggest open-ended narratives of possibility.