Using food to ladle the familiar into uncertainty, Vanessa R Thompson photographs a common carrot and serves us up an uneasy distrust of the world.
Her cinematic images of vegetables and raw meat first disconnect and disconcert, perhaps distress, and then open a door. They let us make up our own reality. They give us room to be free of what we’ve been told to believe, and to imagine gleefully while letting us laugh softly at it all. Squarely in the track of others who have found photography a medium of veracity that is anything but, Thompson delights in dishing out the suspense between the obvious and the suspect. She favors the eerie, unnerving staples of childhood adrenaline: haunted house surprises, icky textures, strange resemblances, the sinister implications of ’70s Giallo films with overdone emotional soundtracks. She loves a good scare.
Color, lighting, and deep, oversaturated color are some of her tools, but Photoshop is not. She likes to let her emotions take the lead, and then explain them later. That, she says, directs her imagery through her preferred themes – consumerism, feminism, body images, or movie aesthetics – with a certain immediacy, which is where the manipulation takes place. What happens in the mind has more power than any digital program. The sound created by something even as virtuous as a carrot will cause us to cringe if cracked just right.
Beyond this, Thompson wants us to thrill over the deep, organic energy of the natural world. She wants us to feel its lushness, its texture, its smell, its mortality. She likes how it can be ugly and even repulsive, but, she says, she can never stray too far from its beauty. Trust in this, she appears to say, and the seemingness of the world is resolved.