Jeff Bark is not the typical ‘chamber traveller’.
Rather than leaving towards literary explorations among novels and art books, just theorizing strictly inner displacements, the American photographer aims to get his hands dirty and rebuild from scratch a frame where he is able to move with governed freedom.
In fact his personal Grand Tour, headed to Italy like every travel worthy of this name, remains contained within the walls of his garage in Upstate New York. The studio though become a magic box, according to his own words, that allows him to change destinations without crossing its borders.
Thus the title of his most recent work, “Garage Paradise”, on display at Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome until June 28th.
It’s all because of a brief stay in the Belpaese capital city, whose memories were enough to light the spark of a creativity that looks at the past with the most contemporary eyes: known for his work for Dazed & Confused, i-D, Another Magazine and the likes, the 56 years old author from Minnesota is inspired by European Reinassence and Baroque, ranging from Italian to Dutch iconography, from portraiture to nature morte, but setting up sceneries which, though maximalist, racall at the same time Irving Penn’s glamourous still–life and Yasumasa Morimura’s pop cross–dressing, Erwin Olaf’s sensual technicalities and early Crewdson’s natural mise–en–scènes.
Bark moves between a solid fashion substrate and a subsequent taste for mixing–up, a short–circuiting between true and false, continually playing with composition and backgrounds, light and colors: by decoying and disorienting us, he manage to leave his garage and reach for a fantasy world, that is more and more personal as much as he gets away from home.