Artists Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber create and photograph incredible model sets to imagine a bleak future without humans
In their haunting upcoming show, The City and Other Stories, US artists Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber imagine what the world might look like when we're all gone.
But these photographs aren't images of real places; they're model sets that they've built collaboratively at their studios in Brooklyn and Cincinnati. It's part of what they've been doing for nearly two decades.
Inspired by their urban surroundings and childhood experiences of natural disasters such as floods and tornados, within this unusual body of work, they represent a bleak and haunting picture of a future world without humanity. Each diorama takes anywhere between one and 15 months to construct.
Lori Nix told Creative Boom: "For the last eight years my photographs have highlighted a fictional urban landscape 'after'. An aquarium after a flood, a church after a fire, a beauty parlour after – who knows what. Humanity is gone and what remains are vacant fragments of buildings, a few slowly being reclaimed by nature. These photos began their lives as complex dioramas sculpted out of foam board, paint, plaster and wood. Built in great detail from scratch, the scenarios reflect their previous inhabitants' daily lives."
A self-taught photographer, Lori grew up in the 1970s in rural western Kansas where every new season brought a new disaster or weather phenomenon. She experienced tornados, floods, blizzards and drought, and found inspiration in these events. As a six-year-old child, she was mesmerised by dystopian movies such as Planet of the Apes, Towering Inferno and Earthquake, which she believes ultimately impacted the art she creates today. "My work to date can be described as disaster mixed with subtle humour," explains Nix.
Kathleen adds: "We do not strictly define what has taken place in the photographs. Clearly, we have a general theme – something catastrophic has happened, humanity is gone, all that is left are empty buildings and abandoned landscapes – but the details as to what actually occurred are purposely left fuzzy. That allows the viewer to bring in their own ideas (or fears) as to what happened. The fact that it is an image of a model and not a real place can make it easier for viewers to place themselves into the scene and imagine what may have led up to this point."
The City and Other Stories by Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber will launch at Wex Photo Video Gallery in London on 2 March and run until 31 March 2020. Entry is free.