American Photographer Bryan Sansivero has become renowned for his colorful and deeply evocative photographs of ruined and abandoned homes and businesses. In Bryan’s pictures, the idea of the abandoned place or ruin is imbued with a sense of loss, nostalgia, of strangeness, an artful fluctuation between presence and absence, creating a poetry of lost words, experience and story.
How do belongings and places once inhabited so steadfastly become traces? How do we read the past in such contemporary photography? The answer will not come easily, and hours can be spent looking, all with the uneasy feeling that one is being watched in all our watching. We feel the language of ghosts.
Bryan began exploring abandoned properties about ten years ago, venturing into these spaces curious to see what lay beneath. The artist studied photography and film making and had his beginnings in dark room photography as early as high school and one of his earliest creative memories is making films with his parents. The layered life of the domestic realm takes on the character of a novel in Bryan’s hands, emotion, memory, subjectivity, pain and loss and happiness seem intertwined, multiple stories and protagonists becoming present and then revealing themselves to be incomplete in his strangely lush and spectral pictures.
Many of the locations are discovered simply by driving around and the photographer only uses what he finds on site to take his photographs, and usually everything is taken as it is found. Bryan uses a Canon DSLR and various film cameras for the exterior views. He shares that each place has its own sense of history:
“The mystery of why it was left behind. What happened there? Why was everything just left behind? I’m drawn to the unknown, you could say.”
Abandoned properties and ruin photography has been popular genre for some time, building on the romantic notion of ancient ruin sites, today reflecting on the accumulation of things in a consumerist society, and in Bryan’s photographs often turning to the ephemeral fragile nature of childhood. A moment so prized, beautiful and universal, yet somehow tragic in its short existence.
A series of relics abandoned in once happy cluttered or painstakingly arranged homes……One is left wondering where and why the inhabitants departed. There is an abiding sense of fluidity of time in each photograph, and as beautiful and evocative as each photograph appears, there is also something deeply troubling in each image. Temporalities seem confused, a sense of tragedy, erasure and loss emerge.
These ghostly places seem somewhere between alive and spectral and Bryan notes that he visits many sites before finding a space that has true resonance and character.
“It’s about finding the right place, and one that is photogenic. I can step into an abandoned house and know right away if I will want to shoot it. There are many factors that must come together while shooting that can really make a photograph special.”