The Doctor Is In(sane) : The Questionable Reality of Asger Carlsen
What are these?
They appear at first, like so many photographs do, as candid moments, mundane vernacular portraits or documents of small news events from the pages of a weekly local paper. The on-camera flash blasts in with that harsh direct light we are used to seeing in our family albums, the black and white palette inexplicably adding to their authenticity
Why is that?
They are familiar, and there is nothing out of the ordinary in these photographs except everything.
Are they even photographs?
I think of the bumper sticker, stuck upside-down that reads "Question Reality", where the gesture itself is a visual pun of it's own sentiment. The "truth" of photographs has always been in question, but in these images, it's the un-truth you are left wondering about, like vivid hallucinations you see out of the corner of your eye. They are optical illusions in the grandest sense, doctored images with invisible scars.
I can look and know that no one has two functioning wooden legs, but there he is, vacuuming the floor. There he is, stopped at a red light on his motorcycle, and I believe in him, over and over.
There is a funny expression that people use online in reaction to awful or disturbing images: "Cannot Un-See!" they say in dismay. The image is burned in, the damage is done. I cannot un-see the alternate reality that Asger has created in these images. I am convinced.
- Tim Barber
NYC, March 21, 2010